SEATTLE — Trailing 24-9 at the half Sunday against the Seahawks, a Titans team expected to be one of the contenders in the AFC walked into the locker room facing the very real possibility of an 0-2 start to the season. Only Mike Vrabel spoke in front of the team, and the head coach said they would find out what they were made of in the second half.
Over the next 30 minutes and then some the Titans rallied, forced overtime and Randy Bulluck’s 36-yard field goal gave them a huge road win that can jumpstart this season.
The Titans found out they are made of a bunch of gamers that were fueled by their week one disappointment and determined not to lose again. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but they found a way to get it done.
They saw their offense came alive, scoring 24 points in the second half and overtime after putting up just 22 points in the first six quarters of the season. Derrick Henry pounded his way for 182 yards. He had three second half touchdowns, including the game-tying score with 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
They overcame adversity with Ty Sambrailo stepping in for Taylor Lewan after the team’s star left tackle came up injured in pregame warm ups, and when Aaron Brewer subbed in for an injured Rodger Saffold in the second half. The offensive line still appeared to wear down a normally staunch defense with Henry rushing for 147 of his yards after halftime.
Ryan Tannehill bounced back from his three turnover game in week one, and another first half fumble, to throw for 347 yards as the Titans outgained the Seahawks 532-397. They did it with the passing game still yet to click on all cylinders. A.J. Brown dropped four passes Sunday and tweeted after the game that he couldn’t catch COVID the way he played. But Julio Jones looked like seven-time Pro Bowler he is with six catches for 128 yards.
MyCole Pruitt filled in for for an injured Anthony Firkser with three big receptions, sparking the Titans first second half drive that went 80 yards in eight plays to get the momentum going. And Jeremy McNichols had three straight touches on the final drive in regulation, spelling Henry, who did most of the damage on the 12 play, 68 yard march.
Tennessee also found its defense can play a complimentary role to its high powered offense with some timely stops. After giving up 38 points against Arizona and 24 more in the first half against Seattle, the defense buckled down, allowing just six points after halftime. David Long made tackles, Kristian Fulton looks the part of a lockdown corner and Bud Dupree started to turn up the pressure as the Titans held the Seahawks to just one first down over their final four possessions to allow the offense a chance to get them back in the game.
It was Dupree that forced Russell Wilson into an errant throw on Seattle’s first offensive play in overtime. OkThen in overtime the Titans found a way to get to Russell Wilson. They forced errant throws on first and second down, and then Ola Adeniyi nearly brought the game to an end with a walk off safety, officials saying he wrestled Wilson down for a sack just outside the goalline.
The ensuing punt set the Titans up with field position inside the Seattle 40, and four Henry runs later the stage was set for Bulluck, the 31 year old journeyman signed to the active roster this week in an attempt to fix the team’s kicking woes.
Bulluck, who is with his seventh NFL team, became the ninth different kicker the Titans have used in the past two-plus seasons. He made the most of his opportunity with four field goals, including the game winner. It was the ideal start to his Titans career, and a performance they hope he can build off of and stabilize the position.
And it was the ideal finish for a Titans team that became the first road team to beat Seattle in its home opener in 13 seasons, spoiling the return of the 12th Man after COVID kept them away all of last year. The more than 68,000 that showed up Sunday at Lumen Field we’re rowdy from well before kickoff, but left disappointed after Bullock’s kick.
Meanwhile the Titans celebrated around their new kicker, and all the way back to the locker room, after a huge come from behind triumph that revealed this team’s true identity, and could provide the jumpstart they need to live up to those lofty expectations.