Titans outlast Lions, win overtime thriller

Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 6:41pm

There were breathless moments born of ingenuity and individual excellence. Lots of them.

Then there was nearly an equal number kicks to the gut that left the Tennessee Titans and the sellout crowd at LP Field figuratively gasping for air.

In the wake of an unprecedented array of big plays and significant momentum swings the moment finally arrived. Everyone held their breath when the Detroit Lions elected to attempt a fourth-and-1 rather than kick a field goal to tie and extend a contest already in overtime.

Then came the collective sigh, not when defensive tackle Jurrell Casey shot through the line and foiled quarterback Shaun Hill’s try at a sneak but only after the referee declared that, upon further review, the spot was correct and the “game is over.”

With that, the Titans not only had their first victory of the season but one for the ages, 44-41.

“I don’t know if they didn’t mean to snap it or there was a miscommunication, but it seemed the guard who was over me didn’t move,” Casey said. “The center snapped it before anybody was ready and it came out in our favor.

“I cleanly got him down.”

He was right. The Lions never intended to snap the ball. With 6:41 to go in the extra period there was time, in the event of a tie, to get the ball back and score the decisive points.

After all, when they scored 14 points in the final 18 seconds of regulation, the last seven on Titus Young’s 46-yard touchdown reception as time expired. So it was clear they did not need much on the clock.

“We were going to try to draw them offsides,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “The crowd was loud and we said if they didn’t jump we were going to take the timeout. And the ball ended up getting snapped. We need to — obviously — make sure all 11 guys get the calls right there.”

Under normal circumstances a team that set an NFL record with five touchdowns on plays of 60 yards or more — as the Titans did — would be the talk of the league. That stat, however, does not begin to say it all in regard to this contest.

The fourth quarter alone featured two ties, two lead changes and 45 combined points. There was a successful onside kick and Hail Mary pass. Along the way a kickoff, a punt and a fumble all were returned for touchdowns.

“You can say that the team you saw [Sunday] is the team that we said we were,” linebacker Akeem Ayers said. “Despite the overtime and all the crazy stuff that happened it was the way we played — the intensity, the effort.”

Having scored just 23 points through the first two weeks of the season Tennessee (1-2) put up 20 by halftime, when it led by 11. The first touchdown was a 65-yard punt return by Tommie Campbell, who got the ball on a long lateral from return specialist Darius Reynaud. Jared Cook’s 61-yard touchdown catch was next.

After Detroit (1-2) scored 18 straight points to open the second half and go up by seven, Reynaud returned a kickoff a franchise-record 105 yards for a game-tying touchdown. Within the next 5:58 the Titans led by 14 after a spectacular catch-and-run by wide receiver Nate Washington for a 71-yard touchdown and Alterraun Verner’s 72-yard fumble return.

That’s when things got really interesting.

Hill replaced Matthew Stafford, who sustained a leg injury on Verner’s return, and drove the Lions 80 yards to a touchdown in seven plays and less than a minute. Detroit recovered an onside kick and took two shots at the end zone. On the second, Ayers got up and got a hand on the ball but deflected it to Young, who fell forward into the end zone and forced overtime.

“I got my whole hand on it,” Ayers said.

The result breathed new life into a season that had the potential to fall flat given that it started with a pair of lopsided losses.

Quarterback Jake Locker threw for a career-high 378 yards without being sacked or intercepted. It was performance that lessened the consternation over running back Chris Johnson’s continuing struggles (14 carries, a season-high 24 yards).

The defense, although it surrendered a lot of points showed vast improvement on third down, where it allowed three conversions on 12 tries. That had a lot to do with the fact that the Lions settled for three field goals after they got inside the Titans’ 30. Plus, the last stop led to the fourth down play – and one final stop.

“We needed this one, and to get a win like this was crazy, Verner said. “It seemed like you covered every single scenario that you could possibly cover in a game – being up, being down, overtime and every single situation.

“… It was definitely the craziest game I’ve ever played in. It was wild, definitely.”

12 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 9/23/12 at 5:47

This is the biggest shock for me in. Sports 2012

By: joe41 on 9/23/12 at 6:27

This has to be the most exciting game in the history of professional football. The Music City Miracle was just a blip compared to the many highlight plays in this game. My biggest concern is the Titans defense but you have to be thrilled if you were there. Unfortunately, Chris Johnson didn't figure into ANY of it.

By: David_S on 9/23/12 at 8:23

A needed win for the Titans, but you can't rely on your team to get points off of punt returns, kick off returns, and stripped balls from hapless tight ends. Chris Johnson still hasn't broken 50 yards rushing for the SEASON, and the defense only came up with 1 sack. Titans fans should be worried.

By: GuardianDevil01 on 9/24/12 at 4:30

The game would have never reached overtime had Ayers not committed a selfish and foolish personal foul late in the 4th quarter, depriving Verner of another big play when he secured the ball in the end zone. If Ayers is in the starting lineup next week then we will know that Munchak fell out of the same bag of marshmallows as did Fisher, and we should expect the team to exhibit the same lack of smarts and discipline as we saw under Coach Pornstache.

By: dargent7 on 9/24/12 at 4:34

Great game.
The on-side kick was a stroke of luck. But, the Titans had 3 non-offensive TD's and that over hyped CJ thug cannot run the ball.
The play that the Titan (Vernon?) stripped/ stole away the ball from a Lion was ridiculous.
The play should of been ruled over and a whistle blown.
The Titans won, but not a pretty sight.

By: TITAN1 on 9/24/12 at 5:08

Congrats, Titans! Exciting game!

By: wataboutbob on 9/24/12 at 7:29

Roughing the passer late in the 4th quarter was stupid and came close to costing the Titans a well-deserved win. Akeem Ayers needs to be reprimanded.

By: st8of10ec on 9/24/12 at 7:35

One of the greatest games I've ever seen,it ranks right up there with the Titans/Buffalo Play Off game & the Music City Miracle!Still need a running game but for this week I'm going to enjoy it!

By: ghost7638ghost7... on 9/24/12 at 9:59

You have got to be kidding me, a big win for the Titans????????? They blew a 14 point lead with 18 seconds left, sorry , this team needs to quit. Every good player is gone, this way the Titans don't have to payout the big bucks for good players, and as long as the fans support this type of behaviour Tennessee will NEVER have a good team worth going to a super bowl.

By: TITAN1 on 9/24/12 at 10:54

Hey, Ghost Troll! We can see right through you (pun intended). You aren't a Titans fan and you don't like it when anyone gives the Titans props. We get it, now run along.

By: bfra on 9/24/12 at 3:10

Titan1 - Get over yourself, you are not the only Titans fan around. Your like of preception of the game in general is pathetic.

By: TITAN1 on 9/24/12 at 7:18

bfra, sonny you don't have a clue. I've been watching football for 50 years. I don't need some smart mouth punk telling me to get over myself. I pointed out that ghost is a troll. If that isn't obvious to you then you need to get your head out of your rear. Anyone with any sense knows it was a big win. He is joy sucking just like you do. You must be running out of things to whine about.