The Tennessee Titans hosted the Detroit Lions in Week 3 of the 2012-13 NFL season on September 23, 2012. The Titans pulled off a 44-41 overtime victory. This shootout featured everything from touchdowns on punt returns, kickoff returns, laterals, fumble returns, and a Hail Mary pass.
Here were some studs and duds from that contest. Please note that studs and duds are ranked in alphabetical order.
The Titans are the first team in NFL history to score five touchdowns of 60-plus yards in the same game. These scores included a 65-yard punt return on a lateral (Music City Miracle II), 61-yard touchdown reception from Jared Cook, 105-yard kickoff return from Darius Reynaud, 71-yard touchdown reception from Nate Washington, and a 72-yard fumble return from Alterraun Verner.
The Lions used their own magic. Down 41-27 with 1:16 remaining, the Lions scored two touchdowns with backup quarterback Shaun Hill. The game-tying touchdown was on a 46-yard Hail Mary pass. Titus Young caught it on the tip.
Offensive Line (Pass-Blocking)
Jake Locker won his first game as a NFL starting quarterback. Locker completed 29-of-42 passes for 378 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. For the second consecutive game, he was not sacked. Locker also had a 31-yard rush. Not bad for his third career start. His only miscue was when he dropped a shotgun snap on the Titans' opening drive.
Tommie Campbell was on the receiving end of the lateral that resulted in a 65-yard touchdown. Taylor Thompson and Campbell both had key blocks in Reynaud's kickoff return.
Duds: Players (Or Coaches)
Jerry Gray (Defensive Coordinator)
Offensive Line (Run-Blocking)
For 59 minutes, Akeem Ayers was a stud. Ayers had 16 tackles with one sack. He was one of the few bright spots on the Titans' defense.
What Ayers did in those 59 minutes was overdone by his foolishness in the final minute. Verner should've had his second takeaway of the game, sealing a 41-27 victory. However, Ayers was charged with a roughing the passer penalty. The Lions capitalized with a touchdown, making it 41-34. Ayers followed this up by slapping a Hail Mary pass to Titus Young. This tied the game at 41.
John Glennon of The Tennessean had reported that Rob Bironas hadn't missed two field goals in one game since September 10, 2009. During a botched opening kickoff, Bironas appeared to have twisted an ankle. This must've affected his accuracy. He almost missed a third kick.
Each team combined for 1,020 total yards. What did Chris Johnson do? 14 carries for 24 yards. The stat-line is a little deceiving when one considers that he combined to lose 15 yards on two toss plays. The run-blocking was far from acceptable. However, Johnson can't run backwards. He must stop this.
For the second consecutive week, the Titans' opponent had too many offensive plays. The Lions had 92 plays. The Titans had 61 plays. The Lions had 442 passing yards and 141 rushing yards. The defense continues to play ultra-conservative with safeties that drop back 15-plus yards into coverage. There were too many uncontested short-and-intermediate routes.
What a bizarre game. Through three weeks, this was easily the game of the year. The touchdown reception by Nate Washington was worthy of play-of-the-year honors. Locker was great. The Lions had a lot of self-inflicted wounds. That's evidenced with 10 penalties for 91 yards.
A win is a win. With that said, the defense must tighten up their coverages. The offense must also become less dependent on the big play.
The Titans will face their first divisional opponent when they visit the Houston Texans on September 30, 2012. With a victory, the Titans will return to .500 (2-2 record).
Run Offense: D
Pass Offense: A
Run Defense: C-
Pass Defense: F
Special Teams: A
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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