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Titans Convince Hometown Skeptics in Opener with Chargers

 

By Ashley Braun, Sports Correspondent and Columnist

The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway

NASHVILLE, TN – Sept. 22, 2013- There were more than just a few skeptics present at the Titans home opener on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, a team that has had the Titans number since 1992—when Coach Mike Munchak was making plays on the field rather than calling them from the sideline. An opening drive consisting of a dropped pass and a false start both by wide receiver Kenny Britt didn’t exactly have people convinced the 21-year losing streak would be ending. To make matters worse, the Chargers opening drive which resulted in a touchdown only added insult to injury. Press room chatter switched from home-opener excitement to show me the excitement, as did the atmosphere at LP Field.

Insert Jake Locker. After a huge scramble up the middle for a 39-yard gain, Locker ran for another 10 putting kicker Rob Bironas in prime field goal position. Two possessions later, Locker came up big again, connecting with Walker, Wright and Washington for a total of five first downs before running the ball 7 yards into the end zone for the Titans first touchdown.  Despite a total of 10 penalties, a fumbled snap in punt formation and a 44-yard San Diego field goal, the Titans ended the first half tied at 10 with momentum on their side.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Titans Antonio Johnson sacked Rivers forcing San Diego to punt the ball. After a 14-yard first down by Washington, running back Chris Johnson had four carries for a total of 37 yards leaving Bironas with a 43-yard field goal attempt that went wide right. With Titans momentum dwindling, San Diego gained possession at their own 33 yard line. In just under four and a half minutes the Chargers ran 9 plays for a total of 67 yards resulting in their second touchdown of the game.

Fans rallied behind Locker as he scrambled for another big first down in the final plays of the third quarter before getting sacked by Chargers player Larry English, which forced the Titans to have to punt. The Tennessee defense denied a chargers first down on the next drive allowing Locker and his offensive line to set Bironas up for a 37-yard field goal that but the Titans within four points with just over six minutes remaining in the game.

Yet another big drive by the Titans defense stopped San Diego from furthering their lead. With just 2:05 remaining in the game the Titans took possession on their own 6 yard line. Locker connected with five different players to advance the ball 60 yards and almost threw an interception on an incomplete pass intended for Delanie Walker before spiking the ball to stop the clock at 28 seconds, leaving the Titans at 2nd and 10 on the San Diego 34 yard line. An incomplete pass to Damian Williams left the Titans facing 3rd and 10 with only 21 seconds remaining on the clock. Both the crowd sideline erupted as Locker found rookie Justin Hunter in the end zone—for his first career catch—resulting in a 34-yard touchdown.

Leading 20-17, the Titans defense took the field urging the crowd to remain on their feet and yell even louder. San Diego’s final play seemed to come straight out of the Harlem Globetrotters’ playbook as they made seven lateral passes followed by an illegal kick to end the game.   

By the numbers:

Titans had 10 penalties resulting in 110 yards in the first half alone and ended the game with 11 penalties.

Wide receiver Kenny Britt went 0 for 5 leaving him on the bench for the winning play.

Bernard Pollard blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt for the Chargers that was recovered by Tennessee’s Alterraun Verner.

The Titans have yet to record a turnover in their first three games.

The home opener was the first of a 3-game home stand for the Titans.

 

 

 

 

 

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