The Tennessee Titans showed the type of grit it would take to avoid an 0-3 start. The Titans jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead but had to hang on for a 24-22 win against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's how we graded the Titans' performance.
Tennessee's first three possessions resulted in touchdowns, and four of its first five drives produced points, capped by Randy Bullock's 48-yard field goal to end the half.
Ryan Tannehill was sharp and decisive. He completed 10 straight passes in the first half and finished 19-of-27 for 264 yards with a touchdown and interception. He also rushed for a score. The Titans (2-1) also got Derrick Henry going early as the offensive line, missing Taylor Lewan to a season-ending knee injury, opened holes that weren't there against the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills. Henry ran 20 times for 85 yards and a TD, while wide receiver Robert Woods caught four balls for 85 yards.
This grade would have been higher, but the Titans were shut out in the second half. The consistency they showed in the first half withered by the fourth quarter.
It felt like the Raiders (0-3) moved up and down the field at will. Quarterback Derek Carr was nearly as efficient as Tannehill, throwing for more than 300 yards and guiding the Raiders offense to 396 total. But a closer look shows the Titans defense bent but never broke. Tennessee gave up a touchdown in each half and routinely gave up huge chunks of yards on third and fourth downs in the fourth quarter.
Safety Kevin Byard's interception in the end zone stopped a potential Las Vegas touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and the defense came up with the game-saving pass breakup on Carr's 2-point conversion attempt that would have tied the score with just over a minute left.
Special teams: A-
This was a big week for the special teams unit after misplayed punt returns in the first two games. Kyle Philips, who fumbled one each against the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills, was inactive, leaving receiver Robert Woods as the returner. He had a 21-yard return just before the half.
The Titans had a 44-yard kick return in the first quarter, which would have set them up in Las Vegas territory, called back after an illegal block. But the Titans' Ryan Stonehouse drilled a 70-yard punt with 2:56 left in the game and the Titans hanging on to a 24-16 lead. That forced the Raiders to eat up time while trying to tie the score.
Give Mike Vrabel and company credit; the Titans were prepared and focused. They played nearly mistake-free football in the first half, and were flagged seven times in the game. But Vrabel took a gamble near midfield in the fourth quarter with his team holding an 11-point lead. The Titans threw it on fourth-and-4 from the 44 yard line. Tannehill was pressured, and his throw was behind rookie Treylon Burks, who nearly made an acrobatic catch over the middle. The incompletion gave the Raiders the ball, and Carr drove Las Vegas to the 6-yard line before Byard's interception. During the Titans' next drive, Vrabel didn't tempt fate again, punting near midfield on fourth-and-1.
Anxiousness prior to the game could have turned into panic, but Tennessee managed to turn the tide with a precision that produced 24 first-half points and a gritty defensive performance in the second that kept Las Vegas at arms length. The Titans got Henry going and played turnover-free football on special teams for their first win of the season.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee Titans grades vs Raiders: How we're evaluating Win No. 1