The Tennessee Titans concluded their business trip to the west coast with an impressive 27-14 road win over the Oakland Raiders tonight.
It was the dress rehearsal game for both teams, when starters see their most extensive action of the preseason.
Tennessee’s starting offense stole the show, and the backup defense sealed the deal.
Marcus Mariota played an error free game, completing 9 of his 16 passes for 170 yards. He added a few timely runs for 20 yards, and led the starting offense on scoring drives in each of his four series.
Thunder and Thunder both scored for the second time in three games. DeMarco Murray opened the scoring with a one yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Derrick Henry put the Titans ahead for good with a three yard plunge late in the second quarter.
The score capped off a 14 play, 85 yard drive in which the bruising rookie repeatedly barreled over Oakland’s defense. It was the epitome of smash mouth football.
Tennessee’s starting offense played the entire first half and finished with close to 300 yards of total offense. They averaged just 311 yards per game last season, which was third worst in the league.
In the second half it was the Titans’ backup defense that stole the show, outscoring Oakland 7-0 while forcing three turnovers in preserving the victory.
Backup linebacker Sean Spence leveled Oakland running back DeAndre Washington on a play that is sure to make SportCenter’s top 10. Washington fumbled, and fellow backup linebacker David Bass returned it 47 yards for the game’s only second half score.
The Titans are putting their money where their smash mouth is, averaging 170 yards and just under six yards per carry after three preseason games. They also have five touchdowns on the ground.
The starting defense struggled out of the gate once again, giving up an opening drive touchdown for the third straight game.
Tight end Delanie Walker was experiencing shortness of breath and exited the game early. After the game head coach Mike Mularkey said that Walker is fine and will be ready for the season opener.
Cornerback Antwon Blake struggled again filling in for starter Perrish Cox. So much so that general manager Jon Robinson may explore some waiver wire secondary depth once roster cuts begin next week.
After bursting off a 41 yard touchdown run in the preseason opener, backup running back Bishop Sankey has two carries for two yards in the last two games. He did not get a snap tonight as the Titans went with Antonio Andrews and Dexter McCluster late in the game. Not a good sign for Sankey.
Andre Johnson may have pulled away from Tre McBride tonight in their battle for one of the remaining wide receiver spots. He caught three passes for 65 yards in the first half while McBride was blanked in the pass game and return game tonight.
Rookie cornerback Kalan Reed, this year’s Mr. Irrelevant (last pick in the draft), made his debut in front of family and friends tonight. The California native rewarded them with his first career interception as a professional.
Tennessee travels to Miami next for their preseason finale Thursday, and you shouldn’t expect to see much if any of the starting offense and defense. The Titans host the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener on September 11.