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Titans, Tannehill adds passing danger to Henry, stingy defense

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Continue to ignore the Tennessee Titans. Coach Mike Vrabel and his team seem to thrive on adversity, and now they’ve found the one piece of the puzzle that has eluded them much of this NFL season.

The passing game.

The Titans (7-3) have improved to 10-2 in short-rest games since Vrabel took over as head coach in 2018, this time beating the Green Bay Packers 27-17 on Thursday night in a game Tennessee never got past let. They managed to go with the best passing performance this season along with Derrick Henry and a physical defense.

“We played the game the way we wanted to,” said Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Titans were without starting center Ben Jones and put a 15th player on injured reserve hours before kickoff. Still, they dictated the pace from the opening ball, blocked an extra point attempt to maintain a 7-6 lead after the first quarter, and never let the desperate Packers get any closer than a field goal.

The two-time AFC South champion has won seven of eight, with an overtime loss at Kansas City, with rookie Malik Willis filling in for Tannehill. Of these three defeats, two came with a total of four points.

WHAT WORKS

The offense put in its best performance this season as Tannehill threw for a season-high 333 yards and two touchdowns. In his second game back from a sprained right ankle, Tannehill completed passes to eight different receivers. The Titans had five plays of 31 yards or more.

Treylon Burks caught seven of eight passes for 111 yards for his best performance as a rookie in his second game back from injured reserve. Henry even threw the third TD pass of his career, including the playoffs.

“I call myself a young Peyton Manning,” Henry said with a smile.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

table football Randy Bullock injured his right calf while warming up just before the Titans’ win over Denver. That forced the Titans to sign veteran Josh Lambo on Tuesday’s practice roster before he was promoted to the active roster on Wednesday. Lambo scored on three of four extra points, with one hitting the right post. He brought just one of four kickoffs into the end zone.

TOP UP

Henry. The two-time NFL rushing champion is the first NFL running back to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. He joined Walter Payton (1983 vs. the Saints) as only the second player in the Super Bowl era to score a game with at least 20 rushing attempts, two passing completions, and both a rushing and a passing TD .

Henry also became the fifth player in NFL history with at least 10 TDs rushing in at least five consecutive seasons. He joined LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Shaun Alexander and Michael Turner. Tomlinson, Peterson, and Alexander have all won the AP NFL MVP once.

STOCK DOWN

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing. He was an easy target for fans unhappy with an offense that ranked last in the NFL and averaged just 281.7 yards per game. Hours after the big win, Downing was arrested early Friday morning for speeding and drunk driving before being released on $2,500 bail.

“We’re going to take that very seriously,” Vrabel said. “We will gather all the information we can, figure out what the next step is and do our best to move forward.”

HURT

Jones needs to erase the concussion log. OLB Bud Dupree missed his fourth game with an injured hip. CB Kristian Fulton, who missed out on the win in Denver, was unable to finish that game with a nagging Achilles tendon injury. Sack leader Denico Autry, who blocked an extra point in Green Bay, had tests on Friday for an injured knee that knocked him out of the game. Vrabel said he saw Autry back on Friday. The lineman will be missing some time, but Vrabel said: “Denico usually finds a way to come back sooner rather than later.”

KEY NUMBER

7 – The Titans are the only NFL franchise to have won at least seven of their first 10 games in each of the last three seasons. They started 2020 7-3 when they reached the AFC Championship game and 8-2 last season en route to becoming the AFC No. 1.

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