In the first week of December, the battle for the AFC is getting hotter. In a must-watch matchup between two playoff-bound teams, the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans, the nationally televised game was highly touted. In a high scoring contest, the Titans underperformed, losing 41-35. Clevland scored 38 points in the first half, not giving the Titans a chance. The Browns came to play and it was an ugly day for Tennessee.
The Browns got the ball to start things off and drove it right into the red zone. The Titans defense bent but didn’t break, holding the Browns to a Cody Parkey field goal (which he made). Tennessee got down to around the Browns 42, but the Browns defense stepped up and stopped Derrick Henry on 4th and 1. The Browns capitalized with a Baker Mayfield to Jarvis Landry TD to make the score 10-0 Cleveland. Then on the first play of the drive for the Titans, Henry fumbled! The Browns recovered and turned it into a touchdown on a trick play where offensive tackle Kendall Lamm caught a pass from Mayfield. Down 17-0, Tennessee answered with bid shots to AJ Brown to get in the red zone and Corey Davis made the score. The Browns then scored on a play fake where the Titans defense left rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones wide open and he scored a back-breaking TD making it 24-7 Browns. After that, the first half was all Cleveland.
PHOTO CREDIT: cleveland19.com
The Browns scored twice before halftime with a pass from Baker to Rashard Higgins, and a run from Nick Chubb, making the score 38-7 at the half. The Titans scored on the first drive of the 2nd half on a pass to backup tight end MyCole Pruitt. They attempted to go for the 2 point conversion, but it did not work, keeping the score at 38-13. When the Titans got the ball back they drove down, and Tannehill found Brown, but he was stripped. Somehow, MyCole Pruitt picked up the ball at the one and scored his second TD of the game.
PHOTO CREDIT: titanswire.usatoday.com
Tannehill took it in for 2 to make the score 38-21. Later in the 3rd quarter, former Bears kicker, the double doink man Cody Parkey made a 43 yard field goal. He extended the lead to 41-21. Heading into the 4th quarter, Tennessee was down by 20 but didn’t score until after the 2-minute warning when backup running back Jeremy McNichols ran it in from the 1. This made the score 41-28. The Titans D held and made it a 4th and 1. Mayfield tried to sneak it, but he fumbled and Kenny Vaccaro took it into the red zone, but Kareem Hunt chased him down. The Titans turned it into 6 via a Tannehill pass to return man Cam Batson. The onside kick failed, and the Browns won 41-35. What started out as an absolute blowout, turned into a game going down to the wire. For the Browns, they continued to roll, as they are 9-3. The Titans fall to 8-4, and out of first place in the AFC South, with a Colts win.
The Tennessee passing game was able to pick up the slack from the ground game which was not at its usual production.
The Titans were able to slow the Brown's two-headed monster of Chubb and Hunt.
They showed fight at the end.
The special teams unit was solid all around, and they almost recovered one of their onside kicks.
Tennessee started very, very slow.
3rd down defense which had been getting better was terrible this Sunday.
Ground game. The rushing attack was slowed down by the Browns and will have to get back on track.
AJ Brown’s drops. This has been a big problem this year. He’ll have to get back to his rookie season form in terms of this category.
Turnovers. The Titans had 5 going into the game and had 3 today.
Overall it was ugly and this is not the Titans that we’re used to seeing. The stat leaders were: Passing; Tannehill, 29-45 for 389 yards 3 TDs, and 1 INT. Rushing; Henry, 15 attempts for 60 yards. Receiving; Davis, 11 catches for 182 yards and 1 TD. My MVP of the game goes to Davis who had career highs in receptions and yards.
PHOTO CREDIT: titanswire.usatoday.com
Who needs to improve in my opinion is the Tennessee defense. They’ll have to start strong and not make it a blowout in the first half. Look for them to do that next week as the Titans will look to get back on track when they visit the Jaguars next week.