It took two days and three touchdown catches, but Kenny Britt went from the Tennessee Titans' doghouse to the penthouse in Sunday's 37-19 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at LP Field.
Britt was benched for the first quarter-plus of Sunday's game because of an incident early Friday morning at the Karma Lounge that warranted a police investigation and possible charges being filed.
But after he entered the game on Sunday, the only karma involving the Titans wide receiver was good – as Britt had seven catches for 225 yards and the three touchdowns, helping Tennessee score 27 unanswered points to knock off the Eagles.
The victory improves the Titans to 5-2 and puts them a half-game ahead of idle Indianapolis and Houston for the AFC South lead.
When it was over, Britt had not only put aside his off-field issue, but he had also rung up the most impressive performance by a Titans wide receiver since Drew Bennett caught a dozen passes for 233 yards and three scores against Kansas City in 2004.
“Mind-boggling. A lot of things have been going through my head, but I had to focus on the task at hand today, and that's what I was doing,” Britt said. “My teammates needed me, and they counted on me and I couldn't let anything else bother me. My job is to go out there and perform, and that's what I tried to do.”
Britt had touchdown receptions of 26, 80 and 16 yards in the game after sitting out until the 7:57 mark of the second quarter. It wasn't until a Michael Griffin interception and the Titans trailing 3-0 that Britt made his way onto the field.
“That was Jeff [Fisher] and he said one quarter,” offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger revealed of Britt's punishment.
Fisher made it seem like a timing issue, based on needing a spark as influencing his decision as when to put Britt on the field.
“You saw the start. It wasn't good,” Fisher said. “We had three-and-outs and turnover, and once we started to settle down offensively, I gave him the green light to go in.”
Britt made the most of his chance, catching the 26-yarder to put the Titans ahead briefly 7-3 in the first half, but saving most of his heroics as part of a franchise-record 27-point fourth quarter.
In order to make that explosion happen with Britt as the focal point, Tennessee changed its approach and took to the air after the defense recovered a fumbled exchange with the Eagles driving for what looked to be a clinching third-quarter TD, already up 16-7.
“It was dictated by the fact that we were running for a about a yard-and-a-half every time we tried it, so I said to hell with it, we might as well start throwing it,” Heimerdinger said.
After a swap of field goals, that strategy paid big dividends, on Britt's 80-yard catch and run on the first play from scrimmage after a David Akers' field goal to lengthen the Eagles lead to 19-10 in the fourth quarter that energized the Titans and turned the tide back in their favor.
The ball was a bit underthrown as Kerry Collins' arm was hit on the deep route, but Britt adjusted, made the catch and still ran away from Eagles cornerback Ellis Hobbs for a touchdown.
“My arm and the ball actually got hit a little bit,” Collins said. “That's why it was kind of turning end-over-end a little bit, but I was able to get enough on it to where he was able to come back and make a play on it. My arm got hit a little bit, but I was able to get it out there. He's starting to really show that he's learned how to adjust to the ball.”
A part of the slow maturing process for the talented, but sometimes troubling Britt. Heimerdinger told Britt to know his role and be ready for when he went into the game.
“You know what to do. You've been studying hard. You've been doing stuff out on the practice field, and as long as he does that, I think he can be one of the top five receivers in this league,” Heimerdinger said. “Ability-wise, he has the most of anybody [we've had].”
Added guard Jake Scott of Britt's redemption on Sunday, "It's good to see him play well. He's slowly but surely maturing. We all know he's got the ability to play football. It's obvious. As he grows and becomes more mature off the field too with preparation, he's just going to get better and better. It's an exciting thing to watch.”
It certainly was on on Sunday.