Packers never recover from early hole in loss to Titans
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey gambled on the opening play, wanting to send a message to his Titans to be as aggressive as possible.
They didn't recover the onside kick.
The Titans did little else wrong the rest of the game.
Marcus Mariota threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns and the Titans routed Green Bay 47-25 Sunday.
Five different Titans scored a touchdown in the first half as Tennessee put together its best scoring performance this season with 35 points.
With the win, the Titans (5-5) also matched the five victories over the past two seasons combined.
“We felt like this was a game we had to make a statement about our team,” said Mularkey, who alerted his Titans on Saturday night of trying to steal a possession at the start.
The defense forced the Packers three-and-out after the onside kick. Then DeMarco Murray took the Titans' opening play from scrimmage, running 75 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 123 yards and also threw a TD pass, becoming the first non-quarterback to do that for this franchise in the same game since Earl Campbell on Sept. 7, 1980, for the then-Houston Oilers.
Brian Orakpo had two of Tennessee's five sacks, and the Titans also forced three turnovers.
The Packers (4-5) started a three-game road swing by losing their third straight. Green Bay has lost four of five in dropping below .500 for the first time since Aaron Rodgers' first year as a starter back in 2008.
“We dug ourselves a huge, huge hole, and frankly it comes down to the basics of football,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said.
“It comes down to the basics of football. We weren't nearly to the standard that we expect from one another.”
Rodgers and Mariota came into this game tied for the most TD passes in the NFL over the previous five weeks with 13. Rodgers threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns, and he also ran for another.
But Mariota completed his first 10 passes as Tennessee jumped on Green Bay, and he completed TD passes of 9, 32, 6 and 33 — each to a different receiver.
Mariota has 21 TD passes this season, becoming the first Titans quarterback with at least 20 TD passes in a season since 2003 when Steve McNair threw 24 and split the NFL MVP award that year with Peyton Manning.
“To even be mentioned among Steve McNair, especially around here, is an honor,” Mariota said.
STUNNING FIRST QUARTER
The Titans botched the first play of the game with an onside kick that went straight to the Packers. That was one of only two blemishes in the opening quarter. Tennessee outgained the Packers 231-26 in the first quarter and led 21-0. Murray cut inside left tackle Taylor Lewan and outraced everyone to the end zone for his longest TD this season, and he capped the next drive with a 10-yard TD pass to Delanie Walker.
Green Bay trailed by as much as 35-10 before a late TD in the first half. It was the Packers' biggest deficit in the first half of a game started by Rodgers, topping a 21-point deficit against the Giants in 2012.
The Titans running back also matched Campbell for the franchise record with a rushing TD in his fifth straight game. Campbell set the mark in 1979. Murray came into Sunday as the NFL's second-leading rusher with 807 yards and a sore toe on his right foot that limited him in practice this week. He got his fifth 100-yard rushing game this season against a Green Bay defense that had been the NFL's stingiest against the run, allowing just 75.8 yards per game.
OUT OF HERE
The Titans led only 7-0 when they lost left tackle Taylor Lewan. On the first play of their second drive, Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was flagged for going unabated to the quarterback, and Lewan was arguing with Guion when back judge Steve Freeman tried to break it up. Lewan appeared on replays to knock Freeman's hand away, and he was ejected for contacting an official. He was replaced by Dennis Kelly.
Mularkey said he alerted his team that referee Jeff Triplette's crew had ejected five players already this season.
Packers: Remain on the road, facing the Washington Redskins.
Titans: Travel to Indy to face the AFC South rival Colts.
- Aaron Rodgers
- Brian Orakpo
- Delanie Walker
- DeMarco Murray
- Dennis Kelly
- FOX Sports Wisconsin
- Green Bay Packers
- Letroy Guion
- Marcus Mariota
- Taylor Lewan
- Tennessee Titans