Jake Locker's numbers weren't spectacular, but the second-year quarterback's contribution in his first game in six weeks went far beyond the stat sheet.
Locker, playing for the first time since Sept. 30, provided a much-needed spark for a moribund Titans team that had been thrashed the week before and in numerous other games this season.
But Locker's derring-do and reckless style, even with a semi-mended left shoulder kick-started the Titans on Sunday and propelled them to a 37-3 rout of the Miami Dolphins.
“That’s why we’re excited about him. He made some plays a lot of quarterbacks couldn’t make, especially early when we went for it on fourth–and-two,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “We knew coming in that there would be some plays here and there, just to get him used to playing against live contact for the first time in six weeks. He played hard. I think the players rallied around him like we thought they would.”
Locker picked up the first down on the fourth-down play Munchak spoke of, but it was a 20-yard scramble where he turned disaster into a dynamic play that seemed to help get the Titans rolling. On that play, Locker slipped and lost his footing on his dropback, but got up, avoided the Dolphins rush and raced into the open field for a first down.
There was some fear that Locker might re-injured himself with his reckless style. After all, he originally hurt the shoulder in the season opener against New England making a tackle after a turnover.
“He’s not going to change the way he plays. I think you saw a very courageous guy today. I think that’s what he’s all about. That’s what we saw when we drafted him. He’s a competitor,,” Munchak said. “His health is the least of his concerns when he’s playing football. He wants to find a way to win. He wants to make plays.”
“I was just trying to do what we needed to do to be successful on offense and not worry about what your stats are going to look like,” said Locker, who added 36 yards on four scrambles. “You just want to find a way to win games and put some points on the board, and I thought we did that today. I thought everybody had the right mindset throughout the week and came out and had the right mindset today. We went out and performed.”
Cook said it was great to have Locker back on the field and he was happy to be on the receiving end of one of the two scores in Sunday's rout.
“It felt awesome. It’s been a while and for me to get in the end zone and for Jake to see it felt awesome,” Cook said.