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VOL. 45 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 17, 2021

Titans believe they found themselves on road in OT comeback

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NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have done enough talking. In rallying for an overtime victory on the road, they may have found the formula to help defend their AFC South title.

Derrick Henry and the Titans piled up 532 yards in rallying from a 15-point deficit at halftime and 14 points in the final 13:06 of regulation. Henry scored two of his three touchdowns to force overtime, and a maligned defense came through for a 33-30 overtime win in Seattle.

"You've got to stop talking about your identity, about hoping and wishing about an identity," coach Mike Vrabel said. "You have to go out there and play to it and find out what it is, and I think that was certainly who we are."

The rally helped the Titans avoid an 0-2 start, and this performance comes just in time with Indianapolis (0-2) visiting Sunday in an early AFC South showdown.

Better yet, the offense that was fourth in the NFL in scoring 30.7 points a game last season scored three touchdowns after halftime. It was a big change after settling for three field goals in the first half.

"There's a lot to get better, but as far as coming together as a unit, making plays, trusting each other and playing to our identity, I feel like it was a good step in the right direction," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said.

WHAT'S WORKING

The Titans produced in all areas. The offense held the ball for 42 minutes, 33 seconds — more than 20 minutes more than Seattle. The defense held Seattle to 4 of 12 on third down (33.3%), forced three-and-outs on three of the final four drives and got a third sack that was a near safety to force a final punt in overtime.

New kicker Randy Bullock missed only one of four field-goal attempts, making a 36-yarder for the win. Punter Brett Kern flipped the field, pinning Seattle at its 13 in overtime with a 53-yard punt.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The defense as the Titans gave up 343 yards passing. Worse, they blew coverage on two big plays for touchdowns, and no defender was anywhere close to Freddie Swain on a 68-yard TD pass for a 30-16 Seattle lead in the fourth quarter.

Tennessee has plenty of youth in its secondary, but communication has been a big focus for months.

STOCK UP

WR Julio Jones. The seven-time Pro Bowler had only three catches for 29 yards in the opener and was criticized by Vrabel for a dumb roughness penalty. Against Seattle, Jones reminded everyone why the Titans traded for him in June with six receptions for 128 yards.

Jones caught another pass initially ruled a touchdown only to be overruled on replay for his left heel being too close to the back line.

STOCK DOWN

WR A.J. Brown. The Pro Bowl wide receiver may have been too amped up playing against his former college teammate in Seattle receiver D.K. Metcalf. Brown dropped a couple of balls and wound up catching only three of the nine passes Tannehill threw to him for 43 yards.

INJURED

The Titans offensive line. Left tackle Taylor Lewan aggravated his right knee in warmups, the same knee he tore the ACL in last October. Ty Sambrailo replaced him. Left guard Rodger Saffold hurt a shoulder and played only 34 of 88 snaps. Center Ben Jones went down once but didn't miss a snap.

KEY NUMBER

10. The Titans are a perfect 10-0 whenever Henry runs for at least 150 yards. The reigning AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year has 10 games with at least 150 yards rushing and two or more TDs. That ties him with Barry Sanders, and Henry trails only LaDaianian Tomlinson (12) and Jim Brown (13) — all Pro Football Hall of Famers.

NEXT STEPS

The Titans now have an opportunity to build some momentum with three straight games against winless teams. The Colts visit Sunday, then the Titans go to the New York Jets and Jacksonville before hosting Buffalo and Kansas City in the span of six days in October.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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