After a short kickoff by Michael Badgley that resulted in a better-than-average return, the Titans started the game on offense. Brandon Mebane met Derrick Henry deep in the backfield on the first play from scrimmage. On 2nd down they ran the ball and got back to the original line of scrimmage setting up 3rd & 10. The Chargers brought five rushers but did not generate pressure and Marcus Mariota hit Tajae Sharpe in front of Desmond King for a 1st down. Their next play went for another new set of downs and on the following 1st down, Melvin Ingram dropped a would-be interception. Dion Lewis caught a short pass on 2nd down and was stopped just short of the sticks by Denzel Perryman. The Titans went back to him again on 3rd & 1, and picked up more than enough yards. Mariota then rushed for 6 yards to set up 2nd & 4 from the Chargers 8. They tried to run Lewis up the middle with no success. A 3rd down pass intended for Sharpe was nearly intercepted, but King couldn’t hold on. A 28-yard field goal attempt later the Titans had the first lead of the day.
On the Chargers first offensive snap of the game, Tyrell Williams beat his man down the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. It was a thing of beauty. The Titans offense was unable to respond going three-and-out- including a sack from Darius Philon. On the ensuing punt, a massive return by King was brought back by a block in the back by Justin Jackson.
Starting in place of Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler’s first touch went for 1st down. From there it was largely the Ekeler and Keenan Allen show as the Chargers offense marched down the field before stalling out in the redzone thanks to incomplete passes directed at Antonio Gates and Mike Williams. Michael Badgley’s first field goal attempt, like his earlier extra point attempt, was good.
Despite chunk plays to Henry and Sharpe, the Titans offense once again stalled out in the redzone and they elected to attempt another field goal. Upon getting the ball back, the Chargers offense was unable to move it with exception of a very nice 26-yard grab by Tyrell Williams who continues to excel.
The Titans next drive was truly a thing to behold. It was 16 plays. It gained (thanks to penalties) 100 yards. And it resulted in zero points. Despite getting beat up and down the field, the defense showed up at the end. Ingram tipped a Mariota pass to Perryman who hauled in the interception.
The Chargers got the ball back to start the second half and wasted very little time in driving 75 yards for a touchdown. Travis Benjamin got involved with a 13-yard reception. Ekeler added 7 more. Then Mike Williams got behind the defense for a 55-yard touchdown.
After a big kickoff return set them up with great field position, the Titans’ offense moved the ball at will. Melvin Ingram chipped in a very nice sack, but every single other play the Titans ran worked. The defensive play calling was terrible and the execution was somehow even worse. Derrick Henry punched it in from 1-yard out to give the Titans their first touchdown in three games.
The offense originally looked like it had something going. Justin Jackson had a nice 12-yard reception and Tyrell Williams added another 6, but then Sam Tevi and Michael Schofield allowed a drive-killing sack on the next play. A route short of the sticks on 3rd down set up a 4th & short that the Chargers halfheartedly pretended to go for before taking a delay of game and punting.
The defense showed up big on the following drive, though. Aided by a clipping penalty, the defense forced a three-and-out. King had another impressive punt return making the first three guys miss.
Austin Ekeler started the drive off right with an 11-yard run and a 5-yard reception. After a Rivers throwaway on 2nd down, Antonio Gates beat his man on 3rd down. Ekeler got another carry up the middle and picked up 4 yards on 1st down. Dan Feeney got roasted for a sack on 2nd down, but Keenan Allen made a big-time play on 3rd down to move the chains. A reverse to Ekeler looked like it might be stopped in the backfield but Ekeler wouldn’t go down and ended up picking up 9 yards. Whisenhunt then challenged the interior of the Titans line again on 2nd down and predictably failed again. Rivers found Allen again on 3rd down for another 1st down. The Titans challenged, but there were no conclusive angles. A 4-yard run by Ekeler was followed by two incomplete passes including a terrible drop by Mike Williams on a perfect pass by Rivers. Badgley came on to convert the field goal attempt.
The Titans’ receivers got open seemingly at will on the ensuing drive. Unfortunately for the Titans, they could not catch the ball. Ultimately, they elected to attempt a 51-yard field goal and Ryan Succop missed to give the Chargers the ball back at near midfield.
The drive appeared to be going nowhere when Keenan Allen picked up exactly 11 yards on 3rd & 11 to get across the 50. Whisenhunt followed that by calling consecutive running plays neither of which had any chance of getting going. On 3rd & 8, Rivers looked to Gates well short of the sticks instead of Ekeler on the other side of the formation who may have actually had a chance to move the sticks. Donnie Jones then came on to punt.
After taking over following the punt, the Titans offense looked unstoppable. Every play was picking up positive yardage. The defense could not tackle. Dion Lewis had a 36-yard run in particular where he looked like Marshawn Lynch in his prime. It was a sight to behold. Another Sharpe reception got them into the redzone. From there they bled the clock as they tried for a touchdown. After a Mariota touchdown run was overturned, it all came down to a 4th & goal inside the 1-yard line with 35 seconds left on the clock. It was a play fake and Luke Stocker hauled in a touchdown reception to pull within 1. They went for 2. There was a defensive penalty, so they got a second try. Adrian Phillips appeared to get a hand on Mariota’s pass on the second attempt.
Tennessee then lined up for an onside kick. Keenan Allen recovered and the offense took the field to run out the clock.