Titans top Falcons, 27-16, in third preseason game

The Tennessee Titans had a successful outing in the third and most important preseason game, taking the starter v. starter first half 13-6 and the overall contest 27-16.

The Good
1. The second quarter. Three scoring drives on offense sandwiched around a pair of Falcons punts.
2. Jake Locker, after a shaky start. He finished 11-13 for 133 yards and a touchdown. For the second week in a row, the passing game looked fluid and efficient. He completed multiple passes more than 10 yards downfield.
3. The short yardage run game. Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, and Jackie Battle each converted a third-and-1, and Battle also converted a third-and-2.
4. Nate Washington and Michael Preston. Nate had 4 catches on as many targets, 70 yards and a score. Preston had 3 catches on 4 targets, 68 yards, and a score.
5. The pass rush. Matt Ryan went down five times as Jurrell Casey led the way with 1.5 sacks.
6. Rob Bironas. Good from 39 and 53. Your expectations of him should be the same they were before Cincinnati.

The Bad
1. Jake Locker's first quarter. A fumble short of the sticks on a third down scramble and a throw late across his body on third down on the second possession. Taylor Thompson was actually the player who had a chance to catch the latter, but with worse luck, on a different night, the Titans could have been out of the game before they were in it.
2. Locker was sacked three times on about 16 dropbacks, a rate similar to Ryan (5/24). Two of those looked like coverage sacks, while one appeared to be a protection bust.
3. Alterraun Verner provided a reminder of why there's a cornerback battle, as he went up against a big physical receiver in Julio Jones and lost. He had one good pass breakup, but was flagged twice and gave up a couple completions in just over a quarter of work. It's almost impossible to see coverage on non-targeted players on preseason telecasts, but the Falcons did less on offense once Tommie Campbell came in for Verner in the second quarter.
4. 15 free yards for the opposing offense courtesy of Bernard Pollard.
5. All three passing touchdowns came on in-breaking routes against rookie cornerback Robert Alford, whom the Titans picked on all night. I know, I try not to talk about opposing players in the preseason, but who you play against matters. 
6. Ankle/foot injuries knocked Nate Washington and Shonn Greene out of the game early. Early indications are neither seems to be serious.
7. Corey Lynch was abused in the open field on the Falcons' touchdown after Blidi Wreh-Wilson got beat in coverage.

In-depth review of the offense and defense later, once I have a chance to re-watch the game.

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