Thoughts on Titans Win Over Saints

Tonight, the Tennessee Titans defeated the New Orleans Saints, 31-14. The Titans came out strong and took a 10-0 lead, but the Saints scored late in the first half and early in the second to take a 14-10 lead. The Titans woke up again, though, and dominated the late 3rd and early 4th quarter, scoring three TDs in the last 17+ minutes to take the win.
Since I liveblogged the game, most of my thoughts can be seen there. Something I didn’t talk about enough there, though, was the dominance of the Titans’ lines, particularly on defense. Drew Brees was under pressure all night and the Saints were unable to run the ball effectively. The Saints eventually had to move to only 3-step passes to keep Drew Brees upright and able to make decent throws. With one notable exception, the Titans were able to really limit the Saints’ deep pass game, while also intercepting Brees four times, three by Keith Bulluck and the fourth returned for a TD by Vinny Fuller to seal the win.
Offensively, the Titans’ performance was a little bit of a mish-mash-some good player mixed in with some not-so-good ones.  This wasn’t the Jacksonville game where they were able to run the ball up the middle effectively all day, but between the passing game and the running game they were able to have enough success to score more points than they had in any game since also putting up 31 on Philly last year, another game that featured a late defensive score.  VY generally had plenty of time to sit in the pocket and look around, and was intelligent with the football, except when he made a bad read to turn the ball right back to the Saints after a late first half interception.  Brandon Jones was the Titans’ leading WR with 4 for 73 yards, the big one a 35 yarder for the Titans’ first TD, while LenDale White had an unspectacular 17 carries for 50 yards that included to go-ahead TD.
I was pleasantly surprised with Josh Miller, who didn’t screw anything up as a holder and wasn’t a bad punter either, including a fine punt out of bounds when the Titans were backed up.  As I noted in the liveblog, though, the Titans really need to cut down on penalties on the punt return.  Davis had a 55 yard return called back because of a hold by LeVar Woods-and Tulloch also committed a foul on the play.  Bironas’s kickoffs seemed to mostly get shorter as the game went on, and he also missed a 27 yard field goal in the 4th that kept the Saints momentarily within a TD and a FG.   Griffin had a nice KOR to set up a scoring drive, but the Titans also gave up some longer kick returns to the Saints, even without a fake handoff to Reggie Bush.
The bottom line is the Titans got a much-needed win and go into the bye week at 2-1.  Considering the 0-3 predictions of doom and gloom from some (myself included), this can only be regarded as a good start for the Titans.  And the next 4 are against the Falcons at home, at Tampa, at Houston, and the Raiders are home.  The Falcons are terrible, the Texans will still be without Andre Johnson, and the Raiders are the Raiders, win yesterday notwithstanding.  The Bucs may be much improved, but coming out of that stretch 5-2 doesn’t strike me as unreasonable.

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