The Tennessee Titans put together a season-saving drive late in the fourth quarter and rallied to defeat the Oakland Raiders 23-19 Sunday in Oakland.
Ryan Fitzpatrick's 10-yard touchdown on third-and-goal with 10 seconds to play sealed the comeback victory for Tennessee, and pushed the Titans to 5-6 in a six-team logjam for the final AFC wild-card spot. Tennessee currently holds the No. 6 spot, though the Ravens, Steelers, Jets, Dolphins and Chargers all have the same mark through 11 games. It means the Titans control their own destiny with five games left in the regular season.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said the team had a playoff-like approach going into the contest in Oakland.
“Definitely, and we knew going in that, in our world, it’s a playoff game. We couldn’t fall to 4-7," Munchak said. "I’m sure they felt the same way, so yeah that was a huge drive when we were sloppy throughout the game with penalties and things like that. We blew some opportunities that could of made this game different, we think anyway. I’m sure they feel the same way. But again when we had to, it’s nice to see that this time we finished and came up with a big win.”
Fitzpatrick, who had struggled in his earlier stint filling in for Jake Locker, put together his best game as a Titan Sunday, hitting on 30 of 42 passes for 320 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in helping Tennessee to a road victory.
Fitzpatrick's late drive came after Matt McGloin had connected with Marcel Reese on a 27-yard touchdown throw that put the Raiders in front 19-16 with 6:10 to go in the game. The drive not only saved the Titans' season in terms of the playoffs, but for now puts them in the driver's seat for that final postseason bid.
"We thought about it in the second half for sure, just in terms of going in at halftime and being down and falling behind at the end there. That was going through our minds. That would have been a big loss for us in terms of what the rest of the season was going to look like. We knew this was going to have a drive at the end of the game, and the guys really stepped up,” Fitzpatrick said.
Tennessee struggled in the first half of the game, managing just a pair of Rob Bironas field goals in trailing 9-6 at the half.
The Titans came out and took the lead in the third quarter, as Fitzpatrick found rookie Justin Hunter for a 54-yard touchdown and a 13-9 lead. Hunter had his best game as a Titan, grabbing six passes for 109 yards, including a key third-down grab that kept the game-winning drive alive. Wright also had six catches and had 103 yards total.
“I felt like I played good, but I think I could have played a little bit stronger than what I did today. I think I got pushed out of my route a few times but was still was able to get the ball, so I just need to work on that part of my game," said Hunter, the Titans' second-round draft pick, who saw his most extensive action of his young career Sunday.
Oakland closed to within 13-12 on a Sebastian Jankowski field goal before taking the lead briefly, setting up the Titans' final game-winning drive.
The Titans now hope that, after dropping five out of six before Sunday, that the victory over the Raiders can propel them to a late-season streak that would solidify a postseason bid.
The Titans travel to AFC South leader Indianapolis next Sunday.
"Hopefully, this will capture some momentum for us. Every week is a new week, a new team. But hopefully we’ll capture some of the momentum we have today and use that to catapult us through the rest of the season,” Fitzpatrick said.
Tight end Craig Stevens suffered a neck injury early in the game and did not return. Stevens has had issues with concussions during his career with the Titans.
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