The Tennessee Titans scored 20 points off turnovers, including interceptions by all three starting linebackers, and Jake Locker threw two touchdown passes in a 37-3 rout of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.
The victory was Tennessee’s most decisive in a year and a stark reversal of its 31-point loss to home to Chicago a week earlier. Since a 30-3 victory at Carolina on Nov. 13, 2011, the Titans had won seven times — all by six points or fewer.
"There were a lot of things we thought we could have done better last week," coach Mike Munchak said. "We realized there was a lot of stuff wrong and it was up to us to fix it. We said that all week. We knew it was our own fault. And only the team can dig ourselves out of the hole. It was only one game (today) but we needed this one."
They jumped out to a 24-3 lead against the Dolphins with three turnovers in a span of 21:32 of the first half. The sequence started when cornerback Jason McCourty stripped Reggie Bush at the end of a long run. That led to the game’s first points, Kendall Wright’s nine-yard touchdown reception four plays later.
Colin McCarthy returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter and Akeem Ayers picked off a pass deep in Miami territory just after the two-minute warning. Zach Brown’s fourth-quarter interception set up the longest of Rob Bironas’ three field goals, 53 yards.
The four takeaways and three interceptions both were season-highs.
"Everybody was just where they were supposed to be," Ayers said. "Nobody chasing plays, just pretty much doing our job. And that’s what we talked about all week, just doing our job and the plays will come to you. And you see when we do that, everybody’s in the position to make a play.”
Locker started for the first time since he sustained a shoulder injury Sept. 30 at Houston and struggled early in the pass game. He completed four of 14 first-half passes for 37 yards but showed his ability to make plays with his feet, including a 20-yard run in which he stumbled as he backed away from the center but got up and zig-zagged through the Miami defense.
The 2011 first-round draft pick finished with 9-for-21 for 122 yards and carried four times for 36 yards. He was pulled early in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
“It wasn’t perfect, but we talked about it before the game, our goal wasn’t to come out and play perfect football, it was to play winning football," Locker said. "I thought that our defense put us in great situations all game and we were able to put some drives together offensively and put points on the board.”
Running back Chris Johnson had 126 yards on 23 carries, his third 100-yard effort in the last four weeks and the first allowed by the Dolphins in 23 games. He also scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the season – all in the last four weeks.
The Titans are now 4-6 and have a bye next Sunday. Their next contest is Nov. 25 at Jacksonville, the first of three straight and four of the final six against AFC South opponents.
"Now the challenge for us, when we get back to work next week, would be can you win two or three in a row," Munchak said. "We did two-in-a-row this year but can we build on this one and come out in Jacksonville and then Houston [and play well]. We have to.
"We can’t sit here and say we’ve got 12 more games to play. We don’t. We have six. We can’t afford, really, to lose any of them. We realize what our challenge is ahead.”