After saying for two weeks that everything was OK despite a couple of less-than-rousing preseason performances, things really were all right for the Tennessee Titans Saturday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
An offense that had shown little consistency through the first two games, got going and looked impressive at times, as Jake Locker showed the type of accuracy and decision-making the Titans had been wanting to see from him.
It added up to a 27-16 victory in the so-called “dress rehearsal” preseason game for the Titans against a Falcons team expected by many to be a Super Bowl contender this season.
Locker went 11 of 13 through the air for 133 yards and a touchdown pass to Nate Washington, with the only hiccups being a fumble on the opening series and three sacks allowed.
Speaking of sacks, a defense that had shown little in the way of pressure over the first couple of weeks found some life, sacking Matt Ryan five times. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey was the main havoc-wreaker on the defensive line for
Tennessee, consistently applying pressure to the Falcons offense from the interior.
“We started off a little slow,” Locker said. “We didn't get a whole lot of plays in the first quarter, but we really came back in the second quarter. I think we controlled the ball, controlled the line of scrimmage. We were able to do really well in the play-action game, moved the ball down the field and put some points on the board.”
As for the defense, they allowed field goals to Atlanta on the first two drives, but then tightened things up, namely by pressuring Ryan.
“It went real well. That was one of our goals this whole season is to get to the quarterback an take pressure off our DBs, and I felt up front we had a great game today being able to do that,” Casey said.
Trailing 6-0, Locker went 3-for-3 on a drive in the second quarter with two completions to Kenny Britt and then finding a leaping Nate Washington in the end zone from seven yards out to put Tennessee in front for good.
Rob Bironas atoned for two misses last week by hitting from 39 and 53 yards in the first half.
After the starters went to the sideline, backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick directed two more touchdown drives, hitting rookie Justin Hunter from three yards out and then getting a diving acrobatic grab from Michael Preston from six yards away.