Things that stood out for the Titans in Saturday’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
WINNING THE TURNOVER BATTLE: The Titans forced three turnovers against the Panthers without committing one themselves. The opportunistic defense got the ball back for the offense with two fumble recoveries and one interception, and on each occasion, the offense took over inside Carolina’s 20-yard line.DRIVE EFFICIENCY: The Titans scored on five of their first seven possessions and would have scored in six of their first seven possessions if not for a missed field goal. Those possessions, in order, finished with a field goal, touchdown, punt, touchdown, touchdown, missed field goal and a field goal.
SIX TRIPS TO RED ZONE: The Titans had six possessions in the red zone against the Panthers and scored five times—four touchdowns and one field goal—while missing one additional field goal once they made it inside the 20. One of the scores was a Marcus Mariota touchdown pass to Delanie Walker. In his two NFL regular seasons, Mariota has completed 33 touchdown passes in the red zone without throwing an interception.
OFFENSIVE LINE: The Titans offensive line played the first five offensive series, staying on the field through the team’s touchdown with 4:40 remaining in the second quarter.
LONG DRIVE: The Titans went on a drive that took longer than eight minutes in the second quarter. A 14-play, 75-yard march that concluded with Derrick Henry’s one-yard touchdown took a total of 8:10 off the clock.
FIRST DRIVE SUCCESS: The Titans got off to a quick start on offense. After the opening kickoff, they drove 59 yards on 11 plays, settling for a 34-yard field goal by Ryan Succop. On the drive, Marcus Mariota completed four of five passes for 50 yards, finding four different receivers. He added a nine-yard run.
PERFECT ON FOURTH DOWN: The Titans converted all three of their attempts on fourth down, and all three conversions came on the ground. Running back Derrick Henryconverted twice, and fullback Jalston Fowler converted once on fourth down.
TIME OF POSSESSION: The Titans won the time of possession battle at 34:02, compared to Carolina’s 25:58.
MARIOTA WORKS TWO SERIES: Starting quarterback Marcus Mariota directed the first two offensive series of the game, both of which ended in scores (field goal and touchdown). He completed six of eight passes for 61 yards with one touchdown and a passer rating of 135.9. He also ran once for nine yards.
MARIOTA-WALKER CONNECTION: With 5:44 on the clock in the first quarter and the Titans facing a third-and-goal, quarterback Marcus Mariota lofted a pass to the back of the end zone, which tight end Delanie Walker caught for a four-yard touchdown. Mariota and Walker have connected for 10 total touchdown passes as teammates in two regular seasons.
TWO TOUCHDOWNS FOR HENRY: Late in the first quarter following a Carolina turnover, Derrick Henry took a handoff from Matt Cassel and raced 17 yards for his first touchdown of the preseason. Then, with 4:40 remaining in the second quarter, Henry scored his second touchdown on a one-yard run on fourth down. He finished the game with 16 carries for 36 yards. The second-year running back had five rushing touchdowns as a rookie in 2016.
GAME-WINNER BY FLUELLEN: Inside the final two minutes of the first half and with the Titans backed up at their own nine-yard line, reserve running back David Fluellenrecorded a 53-yard rushing attempt, which was the longest play of the preseason for the Titans through the first two weeks. Inside the final two minutes of the fourth quarter with the score tied 27-27, he ran three yards for the game-winning touchdown. Fluellen’s game totals included 10 carries for a team-high 76 yards.
CASSEL SEES FIRST ACTION OF PRESEASON: Quarterback Matt Cassel participated against the Panthers after missing the previous contest at the New York Jets. Cassel came into the game for the third series and played through the end of the first half. He was 8-of-13 passing for 88 yards.
FAST START BY DEFENSE: The Titans defensive starters were highly effective in two series, forcing a turnover and a three-and-out. The Panthers did not record a first down until the final play of the first quarter.
RYAN FORCES QUICK TURNOVER: On Carolina’s first offensive play, quarterback Derek Anderson completed a pass to wide receiver Devin Funchess. However, almost immediately after the catch, cornerback Logan Ryan knocked the ball to the ground. Safety Kevin Byard picked it up to record the fumble recovery. Ryan, who was signed in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots, has three career fumble recoveries during the regular season.
STAPLES INTERCEPTION: In the first quarter, Carolina quarterback Derek Andersonattempted a pass to tight end Greg Olsen. Rookie linebacker Jayon Brown tipped the ball before it reached Olsen, and then linebacker Justin Staples intercepted it. Staples returned the interception 19 yards to the Carolina 17-yard line to set up a Titans touchdown on the next play.
WALLACE SETS UP WINNING SCORE WITH STRIP-SACK: The score was tied 27-27 late in the fourth quarter when outside linebacker Aaron Wallace tallied a strip-sack to get the ball back to the Titans offense for the game-winning score. Wallace rushed quarterback Garrett Gilbert from his blind side and knocked the ball loose. Defensive tackle Jimmy Staten recovered it at the Carolina three-yard line. As a rookie in 2016, Wallace recorded one sack.
KICKOFF COVERAGE: The Panthers returned five of the Titans’ seven kickoffs and were tackled inside the 20-yard line on each of the five returns.
HEAT: The 2 p.m. kickoff temperature was 97 degrees with a heat index of 101.
SCRATCHES: Titans players out of action against the Panthers included wide receiver Mekale McKay, wide receiver Tajaé Sharpe (PUP), running back DeMarco Murray, cornerback Demontre Hurst, cornerback Tye Smith, defensive back Curtis Riley, long snapper Beau Brinkley, linebacker Nate Palmer, wide receiver Corey Davis, wide receiver Eric Decker and defensive tackle Karl Klug.