Titans-Falcons Recap: Titans Defeat Struggling Falcons, 24-10
The Tennessee Titans bucked the trend of allowing opponents to score early today against the Atlanta Falcons. They got a slow start on offense, punting the ball after finding themselves in 3rd & long yet again. But, on defense, they kept Matt Ryan and company out of the end zone. On that drive, Malcolm Butler played stud Falcons receiver Julio Jones pretty well, with a safety staying in the vicinity ready.
When the Titans got their second drive on offense, they came out the gate SWINGING. Marcus Mariota hit A.J. Brown for a 55-yard touchdown that saw Brown juke multiple Falcons defenders and win the foot race against Deion Jones. Broadway Brown has shown electric potential all season long, and that play is the perfect summation of it.
The Falcons responded well, going for 85 yards on six plays, concluding with Ito Smith punching it in in the end zone to tie the game at 7-7. That drive was helped by a defensive pass interference call on Logan Ryan, and a big play from Austin Hooper, who was left wide open up the seam.
On the Titans third drive on offense, that unit really started to look diverse and unpredictable – at that point in the game, they had rushed twice and thrown the ball seven times. Mariota was spreading the ball around to different receivers. Adam Humphries made a nice first down conversion on an excellent route. Delanie Walker got his 500th career reception on this drive, and it ended when Mariota hit Brown for his second touchdown of the day on a beautiful throw.
When the Falcons got the ball back, the old turnover bug reared its ugly head again. Jurrell Casey came in and knocked the ball out of Ryan’s hands and fell on top of it as the first quarter came to a close.
The Titans failed to capitalize on the turnover, as their offense was forced to punt on the ensuing drive. Back on offense, Ryan took a deep shot at Calvin Ridley, but the Titans had him double teamed deep. The Falcons offense ended up punting. The Titans kicked a field goal on the following drive to go up 17-7.
The offensive woes continued for the Falcons. Perhaps hoping to ignite something on offense, Dan Quinn elected to go for it on 4th & 1, but the Titans were ready for it. Kenny Vaccaro made the stop, forcing a turnover on downs. The Titans took advantage – Mariota, playing unusually well in the pocket today, hit Corey Davis on 3rd & 5 for a touchdown score.
Looking to score quick, the Falcons were moving the ball pretty well, but the drive stalled in the red zone due to a missed field goal. This offense is struggling today, and the Titans are taking advantage of it completely.
The Titans run the clock out to conclude the first half.
The Falcons got the ball to start the second half, and they came out hot, with Ryan hitting Devonta Freeman for a 22 yard pass right out of the gate. They followed that up with a handoff to Freeman, but he was met, and subsequently hit, by AT LEAST five Titans. The Titans weren’t rushing Ryan at all, it seemed like, and he found time to hit Mohamed Sanu in the soft spot of the Titans zone coverage. Logan Ryan made an excellent play, hanging with Sanu, and forcing him to adjust to a pass. He was unsuccessful in hauling it in, and the Falcons were forced to kick a field goal just to get points on the board.
On the ensuing drive, the Falcons forced the Titans to punt after Vic Beasley came off the edge nearly unblocked and forced Mariota to throw the ball away. But, the Titans defense held. Ryan nearly fumbled under pressure from Harold Landry, and on 3rd & 16, the Titans secondary closed in on Sanu a yard short of the marker. On 4th & 1, Casey sacked Ryan for a turnover on downs. This defense is criminally underrated.
At this point in the game, it was Derrick Henry time. His usage picked up big time. At one point, he picked up consecutive first downs – one from hitting the edge out of the wildcat, and the other running right up the middle. Three straight Henry runs took us into the 4th quarter. The Falcons defense was looking tired and devoid of any energy whatsoever.
On 4th & 1 in the red zone, Mike Vrabel elected to go for it, but Henry was stood up and stuffed. I’m still okay with the decision – you’d potentially extend the drive, and maybe put another touchdown on the board. Considering the way this defense is playing and how deep the Falcons are pinned, I don’t feel like you’re really risking a whole lot there.
The Titans forced the Falcons into 4th & 4, but Ryan was able to hit Sanu for eight yards. The Falcons moved the ball quickly, but once again, fell apart in the red zone. On 4th & 4, Jayon Brown sacked Ryan to get the Titans defense’s 5th sack of the game.
It’s the 4th quarter, folks – Henry is just going to keep pounding. They effectively run up the clock, leaving the Falcons, down 14, with a minute and 58 seconds to go.
*The Falcons just don’t seem to have any sort of mojo going their way today, and the Titans are taking full advantage of it. This offense looks like one we haven’t seen all season – Mariota is playing well from the pocket, his pocket presence has improved today, and he is dropping absolute DIMES to these Titans receivers.
*A.J. Brown…excuse me, Broadway Brown, has shown electric potential this season. At the half, he has three catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Is it officially time to call him WR1? Corey Davis has had a couple of grown ass man catches today, too.
*The Falcons seem to have those bootlegs well scouted, as Mariota was face to face with a defender immediately on three different tries. Thankfully, he was able to throw the ball away instead of taking a sack.
*Jurrell Casey, at this point, has to be considered among the all-time great Tennessee Titans.
*At the half, I’d say the Titans are handling Julio Jones about as well as you could ask ‘em too.
*This Falcons defense started to wear down quick in the late third and early fourth quarters. That’s when the Titans started using Henry heavily, and it proved
*Dion Lewis stay losin’ yards, y’all.
*Regarding the Titans, Bill Cowher said, “when they’re hot, they’re HOT. When they’re not, they’re NOT.” Nailed it.
*This game is emblematic of what the Titans do when they’re at their best – get a lead, hold it with good defense, and pounding the ball in the 4th quarter.
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley