Tennessee Titans topple Baltimore Ravens, 26-13

The Tennessee Titans earned head coach Mike Munchak the first win of his NFL career by upsetting the Baltimore Ravens, 26-13, today at LP Field to even their record on the year at 1-1.  After a sluggish start to the contest by both teams, the Titans eventually scored 20 points on four consecutive possessions, including both third quarter possessions, to turn a 10-10 halftime tie into a two-score lead they were able to maintain throughout the fourth quarter.

Today’s game was an example of the modern NFL: both teams struggled to move the ball through the ground against the opposing defense, and the contest was decided by which team had the better passing offense.  Contrary to my pregame expectations, that turned out to be the Titans.  Matt Hasselbeck had a much better game than he had the week before, completing 30 of 42 passes for 358 yards and a score.

As was the case last week and as I expected, Kenny Britt and Nate Washington saw the vast majority of the work.  Britt led the team with 9 catches for 135 yards and the touchdown, and was virtually uncoverable by a depleted Ravens secondary.  Washington chipped in with a strong secondary effort with 7 catches of his own for 99 yards.  No other player had more than 5 targets, 3 receptions, or 37 yards.  Also of import: Hasselbeck was not sacked a single time and rarely was under serious pressure.

On the other side of the ball, Flacco completed fewer than half his passes, threw for less than 200 yards, and the Titans were able to intercept him twice. True, both passes came off deflections, but those deflections happened because the Titans had good coverage on Flacco’s intended targets.  Flacco did have a TD, but that was all Ray Rice on a screen.  No Ravens receiver had as many as 50 yards, and neither tight end had more than 25 yards.  A lot of credit for Flacco’s poor day goes to the Titans’ defensive line.  Derrick Morgan, Dave Ball, and Karl Klug each had a sack, and even when he wasn’t sacked, Flacco was forced off his spot and couldn’t find what receivers were open downfield.

Both running games mostly struggled.  Chris Johnson didn’t have a carry of more than 7 yards and ended up with only 54 yards on 24 carries.  Ray Rice couldn’t find much more room of his own, getting only 43 yards on 13 carries.  Javon Ringer had the single biggest run of the game, converting a 4&1 play at the Ravens’ 10 in the third quarter for a score on a pitch.

There’s more to talk about, like the pass to Quinn Johnson late in the game for a conversion to help run the clock out and just how exactly the Titans were able to protect and get pressure on Joe Flacco, but we’ll hit those later in the week. For now, though, it’s the 24-hour rule, and that means celebrating today’s win.

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