NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jackie Battle scored on a 7-yard touchdown run with 5:02 left, and the Titans rallied to beat the Green Bay Packers 20-16 Saturday night in Ken Whisenhunt’s coaching debut in Tennessee.
Rookie Zach Mettenberger made up for two turnovers in the fourth quarter by completing all three passes for 71 yards to set up Battle’s go-ahead touchdown for Tennessee’s first lead in a preseason opener played mostly in a pouring rain.
With quarterbacks having trouble holding onto the ball, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy had to feel good about his pregame decision to scratch not only Aaron Rodgers but also Eddie Lacy along with eight other Packers.
Davante Adams fumbled a punt in the first quarter that led to the Titans’ first touchdown, a 13-yard run by Shonn Greene who’s had two arthroscopic surgeries in the past year. Rookie Bishop Sankey caught a 5-yard TD pass from Charlie Whitehurst.
The biggest cheer of the game came early in the second quarter, when rain finally eased up for the first time in nearly two hours. But heavy rain returned late in the first half and stuck around most of the third quarter.
Matt Flynn started for Rodgers and was 5 of 10 for 49 yards playing most of the first half. He left with the Packers leading 7-6 thanks to James Starks’ TD capping the opening drive. Starks played only the first series in place of Lacy, and he finished with six carries for 49 yards.
Whisenhunt brought in defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who’s using a hybrid 3-4 scheme, and he couldn’t be too happy even with the sloppy conditions. The Titans, who pulled their defensive starters after the Packers’ second offensive series, allowed 90 yards rushing in the first half.
Jake Locker played only the first quarter and was 1 of 2 for 5 yards. He bobbled a snap, though he recovered. He could have left with the score tied except Maikon Bonani missed the extra point after Shonn Greene’s 13-yard TD run.
Charlie Whitehurst took over for the first series of the second quarter with rookie Taylor Lewan, the No. 11 draft pick overall, taking over at left tackle for veteran Michael Roos.
Flynn was 5 of 10 for 49 yards playing most of the first half.
Scott Tolzien simply lost the ball out of his hand trying to pass midway through the third quarter, then he grabbed the jersey of Titans linebacker Brandon Copeland holding until he could recover his fumble. Tolzien then found Chris Harper for a 38-yard pass, and rookie Rajion Neal, who played at the University of Tennessee, capped the drive with a 12-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
The sloppiness wasn’t limited to players on the field.
After Neal’s touchdown run was reviewed, the Packers went Tolzien back onto the field for a 2-point conversion pass that failed. The TD was taken off the scoreboard with some thinking the TD had been overturned.
Titans backup center Chris Spencer injured his left ankle early in the second quarter and was taken to the locker room on a cart.
Spencer had replaced starter Brian Scwhenke when he went down on a running play by Bishop Sankey. The veteran going into his 10th season didn’t put his left leg down while being helped to the sideline.