The Minnesota Vikings went into Nissan Stadium today and came out with a victory over two teams…the 2016 Tennessee Titans and the 2015 Tennessee Titans.
The Vikings (1-0) overcame an early 10 point deficit, two missed field goals, and a shaky day from Adrian Peterson to hand the Titans (0-1) a crushing 25-16 home defeat.
Minnesota’s defense held Tennessee to six points in the second half while scoring two touchdowns of their own, and the Vikings closed the game on a 25-6 run. The win snapped Tennessee’s three game win streak on opening day.
After an offseason that produced 22 new faces on the 53 man roster, the 2016 Tennessee Titans showed up in the first half…spearheaded by three of their highest profile additions.
Thunder and Thunder had it going in the first half. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry made their presence felt on the ground and in the passing game, and rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe continued his preseason role as Marcus Mariota’s favorite target in the passing game. He responded with several nice catches.
The 2016 Titans went in at halftime with a solid effort from both sides of the ball and a 10-0 lead, but the 2015 Titans emerged from the locker room for the second half.
An innocuous sign was the big play given up by Tennessee’s kick return team to start third quarter. The Vikings took advantage of the short field for their first score of the game.
From there the Titans’ 2015 offense took over.
Marcus Mariota looked rookie-like in the second half. A bad forced throw led to a pick six for Minnesota, and shortly after that his 2015 ball security woes reared its ugly head.
After sputtering with a three-and-out following the interception, Mariota fumbled on the ensuing drive and the Vikings returned it for their second defensive score of the game.
Murray joined the party a few plays later, coughing up the ball himself.
The defense’s performance was eerily similar to last year as well. They fought and fought, but with little help from the offense, they wore down in the critical late stages of the game.
A day that started with so much promise ended in 2015 fashion…disappointment.
The Titans look to rebound next Sunday in Detroit as they go on the road to face the Lions.
*The exotic smash mouth era got off to a rough start. The Titans averaged less than three yards per carry on the ground and gave up two sacks today.
*After a sluggish preseason, worries about the defense’s demise should be tempered. Tennessee held the reigning NFL rushing champ Adrian Peterson to 31 yards on 19 attempts…that’s less than two yards per carry. They held the Vikings’ offense to four field goals on the day.
*Tight end Delanie Walker is not feeling the love right now. He was Mariota’s fourth favorite target today (5) after leading the team in targets and receptions a year ago. Tajae Sharpe (11), Andre Johnson (7), and DeMarco Murray (7) were all targeted more today.
*While he didn’t start, rookie safety Kevin Byard found the field early and often. He also made plays when call upon, his five solo tackles (one for loss) ranked third best on the team.