This Titans offense erupted amidst a Nissan Stadium Cheese-head Congregation Sunday.
Six different Titans visited the end zone. Three Titans players scored touchdowns measuring more than 30 yards. No, I didn’t dream this up. I drank several colas during the game to pump my caffeine level up to ensure I was not sleepwalking.
The Titans put 47 points on the Nissan Stadium scoreboard. It seems like in past years they were lucky to score 47 points in a season.
The Titans defense held the Packers and future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers to 25 points.
The Pack was backed by thousands of purebred Cheese-heads, trying to pull their team out of a 4-5 funk. Nothing doing there.
The Titans leveled out at 5-5 on the season, the number of wins they had over the past two seasons combined.
I would definitely call that progress especially when you study the franchise’s horrid history.
Coach Mike Mularkey called an onside kick to start the game, something unheard of with this old school coaching staff. Yet they lived to play another week when the Titans defense forced the Packers to swallow a three-and-out from the Titans’ 49-yard line.
They dusted themselves off, breathed a sigh of relief and on the Titans first play from their 25-yard line, quarterback Marcus Mariota stuck the ball in running back DeMarco Murray’s hands and dropped back to see Murray motor 75 yards off left tackle, outrunning the Pack chasing him to the end zone.
It was a hot start from a team that earlier on had difficulty getting its act together. They couldn’t close games they should have. They found ways to lose.
Slowly but surely this team is coming together as one. Sure they will have glitches, such as starting left tackle Taylor Lewan acting a fool and getting booted from the game with less than five minutes expiring in the game.
The onside kick and Lewan’s sentence to the time out corner were two miscues early in the game that would have mentally crippled this team earlier this season.
The Titans were up 35-16 at halftime and refused to take their feet off the Packers’ air hose.
“The margin in the first half is something we clearly couldn’t overcome,’’ said Packers Coach Mike McCarthy. He mentioned failing to collect points after recovering the onside kick.
He pointed to the Titans offense scoring four touchdowns in a row and the fact his team didn’t light the scoreboard until their fourth series.
“We dug ourselves a huge, huge hole and frankly it comes down to the basics of football and we weren’t nearly to the standard we expect from one another,’’ McCarthy said.
The previous week, Rodgers chastised his team for not getting out of the starting block early and often in a loss to the Colts. He said they lacked “juice,’’ and pointed the finger at himself as being part of the problem, not the solution.
As for the Titans, Mularkey knew he had to kick-start his team before the Packers could gear up.
“We felt like this was a game we had to make a statement about our team. I told them (Saturday) night. I said, I can’t think of a better statement than an onside kick in the first (series),’’ Mularkey said. “Obviously it didn’t, but I was trying to gain momentum immediately and our team wanted to see it … They (Packers) score a lot of points and we had to try to steal a possession.’’
The Titans not only stole possessions. They stole the show in front of a thirsty for success Titans crowd of 69,116 paying customers, many of them rocking cheese-heads and Packers jerseys.
Only in his second season, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota owned the stat sheet over Rodgers.
Mariota threw four touchdown passes and ended with a rating of 147.2 compared to Rodgers’ two touchdown passes and a rating of 107.5.
Even Murray got into the act. He completed his only pass of the game early in the game when he hit tight end Delanie Walker from 10 yards out of the end zone, earning himself a 147.9 rating.
The Titans have six games remaining. Mularkey thinks the Packers game will do nothing but help.
“I think it just helps our confidence in ourselves and what we’re capable of doing,’’ he said.
“Two of the last three games we played very good football and our guys have recognized that when we do that, we can score points and we can win games against a team like a Green Bay.’’
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.