What we learned from the Titans’ win over Packers on Thursday night

FULL BOX RESULTS

  1. The Titans had their best offensive game of the season. Tennessee posted its highest point total of the 2022 season in the first game of the fourth quarter and surpassed its all-time high for mileage midway through the fourth quarter. And here’s an even bigger madness: When Ryan Tannehill blow Austin Hooper For his second touchdown of the game, it marked the first time the Titans had a TD in the fourth quarter all season. They had accumulated just 12 points in nine fourth quarters prior to Thursday. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a jump-onDerrick Henry‘s back type of game. Yes, he had a rushing TD, a passing TD, and a 42-yard screen that put up another score. But this was an effort as well-rounded as the Titans’ offensive. Treylon Burks and Chig Okonkwo both had large over-the-shoulder catches. Dontrell Hilliard caught his team-best fourth TD of the season. And Tannehill kept the offensive line clean. Aside from his picks, Tannehill played a clean, sharp game.
  2. Aaron Rodgers started sharply but didn’t get enough help. Rodgers was pretty sharp in the first two drives of the second half, putting the Packers in a position to potentially pick up another late win like they did against Dallas on Sunday. But there was too much pressure, one of which resulted in an intentional grounding call and another throwaway where Rodgers was lucky something bad didn’t happen. Otherwise nothing went right. The Titans erased the Packers’ running game. And Rodgers had a tough fourth quarter, missing on third passes Sammy Watkins and Allen Lazard in a 10-point game. The Packers poked at the first miss, but they did after the Lazard miss, and Rodgers and Lazard were once again not on the same page at the fourth incompletion. It looked more like the Packers we’ve seen all season than their fourth-quarter performance and OT performance against Dallas.
  3. Mike Vrabel deserves some COTY attention. After starting 2-0, the Titans have won seven of their last eight games (including an overtime loss at Kansas City) and currently lead the AFC with seven wins. It doesn’t seem quite as likely this year that they will secure first place in the playoffs, although they certainly have a chance. But it underscores the work Vrabel has done this season with plenty of speed bumps along the way. Their top pass rusher, Harold Landry, has been out all season. Their recipients were beaten up and temporarily ineffective. The offensive line has taken several hits and largely underperformed. But Vrabel trained his team very well, both in preparation for the games and on matchdays. That was evident on Thursday as well, with the scoring late in the first half, the defensive scheme and keeping the Packers within reach for most of the game.
  4. Christian Watson is hot son. OK, so that’s six catches for five touchdowns in four days for Watson. That’s after 10 catches for 88 yards and no TDs in his first six NFL games. And what do you know? Watson now leads all rookie receivers in touchdowns – after having zero less than a week ago. Considering this is the guy that (some) Packers fans got sick of not too long ago. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But there was a level of frustration that the Packers’ rookie receivers couldn’t do more and more consistently. With Romeo Doubs out, Watson was Rodgers’ point of contact, at least in the red zone. It feels like they’ve simplified his duties and asked him to run courses where his speed and quickness can be exploited, but his first result was an off-script beauty. Rodgers grabbed the ball with 12 Titans on the field, and Rodgers bought time while Watson improvised, opening and making a hard, contested catch. That’s called progress. Fear not Packers fans, you’ve got a good one.
  5. The Titans’ tough secondary deserves credit. The Packers had their offensive line intact and only allowed one sack to Tennessee’s talented front, although you can imagine the group was a bit gassed after 73 defensive snaps on Sunday and once again didn’t have Bud Dupree to help in this game. So that put a lot of pressure on the Titans runner-up, who was no doubt Amani Hooker, who was also out injured. Even when allowing two TD passes, the Titans secondary had a very strong game. The one sack? It was a cover sack to complete the game. The Packers’ longest catch went for 28 yards, on a catch and run. The Titans’ corners were tackled well. A really nice individual performance came from Tre Avery, a college free agent who has had little defense this season but showed up late in the fourth quarter with some impressive plays.

Next-gen stats of the game: Titans QB Ryan Tannehill completed +20.0% of his passes above expected, the highest CPOE in a game in the last three seasons (min. 25 attempts). Tannehill’s performance earned him a 97 NGS passing score, the highest of any QB this season.

NFL Research: Rookie WR Treylon Burks became the first Titan with six or more catches and 100+ yards since AJ Brown in Week 16, 2021 Thursday night soccer.

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