Titans 27, Falcons 16
Beating a team that played in the NFC championship game is nice
in the preseason. Winning when both the Titans and Atlanta Falcons
played their starters into the second half makes it even
Jake Locker threw for 133 yards and a touchdown, and Tennessee
sacked Matt Ryan five times Saturday night as the Titans beat the
Locker got both his first TD with a 11-yarder to Nate Washington
and the first turnover this preseason for the Titans. The
third-year quarterback also posted his best game yet as he
completed 11 of 13 passes and finished with a 134.9 passer rating
before leaving after a series in the third quarter.
”Preseason or not, at least we won one that the guys played
into the third quarter on both sides, so you kind of got a real
feel of where we’re at,” coach Mike Munchak said of the Titans’
first preseason win. ”Still a lot different than the regular
season. We know that. But again, you want to be ready to go out and
Ryan had Tony Gonzalez back after the veteran tight end reported
to the Falcons this week. But a Tennessee defense without four
starters got to Ryan repeatedly, including three times on third
downs. Julio Jones was thrown at eight times with Roddy White
resting an injured ankle, and dropped a couple while also drawing
an offensive pass interference penalty.
Atlanta wound up settling for four field goal attempts by Jeremy
Shelley, and he missed a 46-yarder wide right.
The Falcons, who lost to San Francisco in the NFC championship
game in January, averaged 26.2 points per season in 2012. But they
trailed 20-6 when Ryan left after one series in the third period,
settling for field goals despite driving to the Tennessee 6 and 13
The Falcons didn’t get that close again with the first-team
offense. Coach Mike Smith said his Falcons didn’t play up to their
standards, but he trusts his players to be ready for the season
opener Sept. 8 at New Orleans.
”We have a whole lot of work to do over the next 14 days,”
Smith said. ”Many of the mistakes that we made are
Tennessee had been shredded on the ground the first two games,
including giving up 193 yards rushing last week at Cincinnati. That
didn’t bode well for a defense that allowed a franchise-worst 471
points last season, and the Titans scratched end Ropati Pitoitua,
tackle Sammie Hill and linebackers Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown for
It didn’t matter because the Titans got to Ryan repeatedly, and
only a call from the officials helped bail him out of a would-be
turnover. Ryan was ruled in the grasp before the ball came out with
defensive tackle Jurrell Casey recovering in the second
”A couple things stick out to me,” Ryan said. ”Production in
the red zone we’ve got to do better and improve on in the next two
weeks. And overall execution needs to be better across the board.
We just need to play better than we did tonight.”
The Titans finished with six sacks.
”That was one of our goals this whole season is to get to the
quarterback and take pressure off of our DBs, and I felt up front
we had a great game today being able to do that,” Casey said.
Locker’s turnover came when Atlanta blitzed on third down. He
got away from Thomas DeCoud and scrambled to the first down marker
only to be stripped by Joplo Bartu, with DeCoud recovering the
ball. But the defense held, forcing a field goal.
”You can’t have turnovers like that,” Locker said. ”It was
nice to respond and find ways to put points on the board.”
Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel hurt his thigh in the first
quarter and didn’t return. Rookie Robert Alford replaced him, with
rookie Desmond Trufant on the other side, and Locker started going
Chris Johnson ran 11 times for 65 yards. Backup Shonn Greene
hurt an ankle in the first half and didn’t finish the game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, signed to back up Locker, made sure the Titans
finally finished a game with a win. Dominique Davis rallied the
Falcons within 20-16 with a TD pass to Darius Johnson, but
Fitzpatrick found Michael Preston on a 6-yarder to seal it.
Notes: Titans rookie LB Jonathan ”Tig” Willard, who helped
rescue a woman and her three children from a burning car on his way
to training camp, intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter. …
Falcons DT Peria Jerry hurt his jaw. He didn’t return after being
cleared by doctors because the second-team already was in. … Ed
Hochuli worked the first half as referee, with Wayne Mackie
handling the second. … Washington didn’t finish with an injured
right foot that he said after the game wasn’t serious. RB Shonn
Greene also didn’t play in the second half with an injured
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