Titans beat Broncos 17-14 but lose Kenny BrittBy TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer Monday, Sep 26, 2011
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Kenny Britt’s(notes) right knee buckled underneath him, and the Tennessee receiver dropped the ball in pain before being carted off the field. Without Britt, the Titans got sloppy and confused in the huddle.
Hasselbeck drove the Titans 95 yards and tossed the go-ahead touchdown to Daniel Graham(notes) with 4:24 left as the Titans rallied and beat the Denver Broncos 17-14 on Sunday for their second straight win.
Hasselbeck finished with 311 yards and two touchdowns, the last a 4-yarder to the fifth different receiver on the drive.
“Guys stepped up enough to make the plays to win the game,” Hasselbeck said. “But it wasn’t good enough. We need to improve if that ever happens again.”
Britt, who came in leading the AFC with 271 yards receiving, left the stadium wearing a brace on his right knee with tests to determine the severity of the damage expected by Monday. Britt only said that his status is “limping” as he walked by reporters.
The Titans (2-1) intercepted Kyle Orton(notes) twice, sacked him once and stopped Willis McGahee(notes) on fourth-and-goal at the 1 early in the fourth quarter. They outgained Denver 333-231 with Hasselbeck again carrying the offense. He also threw a 14-yard TD pass to Nate Washington(notes) as the Titans scored 10 straight points in the second quarter for a 10-7 halftime lead.
Titans coach Mike Munchak credited Hasselbeck with spreading the ball around.
“We lost Kenny, and he’s got a lot of young receivers out there having to change positions so there’s a lot going on out there,” Munchak said. “Not many quarterbacks could have handled that as well as he did and make plays the way he did. He’s exactly what we hoped he’d be.”
Washington, who had a career-high eight catches, said he was very concerned about Britt.
“We have to put some things together that are going to try to make up for things that he was able to do for us. But I think we are going to be all right. Hopefully, he will be able to sit down and kick his feet up, and we’ll be able to hold on until he gets healthy,” Washington said.
Denver (1-2) had a last chance, driving to the Titans 38 before Will Witherspoon(notes) sacked Orton. Two plays later, Jason Jones(notes) batted Orton’s pass into the air, and Witherspoon picked it off with 1:39 left to seal the victory.
“There’s not much you can do about it,” Orton said.
Denver coach John Fox got receiver Brandon Lloyd(notes) back from injury, but held out running back Knowshon Moreno(notes) and linebacker D.J. Williams. Fox said he’d go for fourth-and-goal again if he had inches to the end zone. He took a timeout and pulled Matt Prater(notes) off the field after he had lined up to attempt a 19-yard field goal for the Broncos.
“At the end of the day on the road, fourth and not even a full yard, I’d do it again next week,” Fox said. “We’ve got to be able to get that and get that in. Unfortunately, we didn’t.”
Derrick Morgan(notes), the Titans’ top draft pick a year ago, stopped McGahee for no gain with his teammates pushing in from all sides. Witherspoon said they felt challenged when Denver decided to go for it after Tennessee had stopped the Broncos three straight times.
“It was like in the movies pretty much,” Witherspoon said. “It was one of those scenes that you’re like, ‘Hey, this only happens once in a while so let’s make the best of it.’ They were challenging us, and we were going to challenge them back.”
The game might not have been as close if not for the Titans hurting themselves with 11 penalties for 80 yards, including a personal foul on each of Denver’s scoring drives. Orton was hit in the head by Jones on the drive that finished with a 5-yard TD pass to McGahee, and a face mask on Titans tackle Shaun Smith set up a third-quarter TD drive.
“The bottom line is it’s hard to win in this league,” Munchak said. “Any win to me is a good win, and 2-1 is a lot better than the alternative.”