Titans do just enough to beat Ravens 23-20

Titans do just enough to beat Ravens 23-20
Kevin "big play" Byard has two interceptions today. Photo courtesy of USAToday

Titans do just enough to beat Ravens 23-20

It wasn’t a pretty game. It was the type that Titans fans are starting to get used to.

Again, The Titans running game failed to get rolling behind the best offensive line in football. Adoree Jackson took a carry in the first quarter for 20 yards. Despite playing the rest of the game, DeMarco Murray did not run for more yards than Jackson. Murray did sprain his knee, got it taped up, and returned. Derrick Henry only had 26 yards rushing. The Titans must get their running game fixed up.

There were gifts in this game. Kevin Byard followed last week’s three-interception game with two this week. The Ravens shanked a 17-yard punt. Marcus Mariota well overthrew Rishard Matthews right into the hands of a Ravens defender. The Titans were fortunate to receive two quite favorable spots. Mariota was barely tapped near the sideline and the Titans received a late hit penalty. Starting the fourth quarter, the Titans employed their four-minute offense and their “way ahead” zone defense.  Both teams must improve on these issues.

Rookie Corey Davis was shadowed by pro bowl cornerback Jimmy Smith in the first half. Matthews was often open and/or left uncovered. In the second half, Smith covered Matthews. The Titans did not adjust and throw it often to Davis.

Eric Decker busted through two Ravens safeties to be wide open on the left hand side, while everyone else went right on a touchdown play. It was an excellent play that Mularkey called, “smart” in the post-game presser.

Johnathan Cyprien struggled against the tight end. Jayon Brown was fine- not good, not bad. Cyprien did show his “patented” big hits in his first game back from injury.

Wesley Woodyard, nicknamed the lumberjack, laid the wood this week. There were five or more times that he made a huge hitting tackle.

Taywan Taylor bobbled a screen early and was tackled for a loss of four yards. I did not notice him after that point.

On one of Byard’s interceptions, cornerback Logan Ryan left his man (on the left) and ran to the center of the field where he was able to pop the ball up into the air. It was an outstanding “headsup” play by the veteran corner.

Delanie Walker played through his bone bruise injury and led the Titans in receiving with five catches for 71 yards.

The Titans are 5-3 and in first place in their division, tied with the Jaguars. They are one game out of first place in the AFC also. Whether they win ugly, pretty, or what, as long as they win that’s all that matters.

Fixing the run game should remedy so much on offense. Expect that to be the focus of conversation this week. Next week, the Titans will likely face a Bengals team without AJ Green. Their star wide receiver was ejected this week and it seems improbable that the NFL will permit him to play without suspension next week.

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