|Rob Bironas kicks the game-winning field goal in overtime as the Titans defeated the Lions 44-41 in a wild game Sunday. (US Presswire)|
The Titans prevailed in a game QB Jake Locker said he'll never forget and one the announcers dubbed the "The Motor City Miracle."
How else to recognize a last-second, 46-yard Hail Mary touchdown by Titus Young that forced overtime at LP Field?
The Titans then withstood two lengthy challenges, including a game-clinching, fourth-down stuff to outlast the Lions in a 44-41 in Nashville.
The game featured five touchdowns of 65 yards or more, the longest kickoff return in Titans' history, two touchdowns by the Lions in the final 18 seconds of regulation, a critical onside kick and a home-run throwback that led to an electrifying touchdown on a first-quarter kickoff.
“I don't think I could have dreamt them up any crazier when I was 5 years old,” said Locker. “It's one (game) I'll never forget.”
When the game turned: The Lions had just taken their first lead since early in the first quarter when Titans rookie TE Taylor Thompson delivered a devastating block on rookie Jonte Green on a kickoff midway through the fourth quarter. Thompson's block created a lane for Darius Reynaud up the right sideline. Reynaud took the kick 105-yards to tie the game at 27. After trailing 27-20, Tennessee scored 21 unanswered to take a 41-27 lead.
Highlight moments: Titans CB Tommie Campbell caught a throwback from Reynaud on a kickoff return and raced 65-yards for a touchdown along the right sideline. As a 12-year old growing up in the Northeast, Campbell was rooting for the Bills when former Titans WR Kevin Dyson scored on a 75-yard game-winning touchdown commonly known as “The Music City Miracle.” When running the similar play this week in practice, the Titans referred to it as Maroon 6 -- in reference to a trendy American pop-rock band.
“The only reason we called it Maroon was because we didn't want them to hear 37 during our play call,” said Campbell, who wears the Titans' No. 37 jersey. “Making the right pass and not throwing it over my head was one of the concerns about it.”
Titans TE Jared Cook scored on a 61-yard reception across the middle several minutes later. A 3-yard touchdown catch by Lions' WR Nate Burleson with 6:53 left in the fourth gave the Lions their first lead since Campbell's touchdown.
Titans WR Nate Washington's circus-like 71-yard touchdown catch drew comparisons with an acrobatic catch by former Alabama WR Tyrone Prothro in 2005. Tennessee clinched the win when DT Jurrell Casey stopped Lions QB Shaun Hill on a fourth-and-2 sneak from the Titans' 7 in overtime.
“That was a miscommunication,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “We were going to try and draw [the Titans] offside, and the crowd was loud. I didn't want to take the delay of game if they didn't jump, I was getting ready to call a time out.”
Top-shelf performance: Titans QB Locker -- 29 of 42 for 378 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. QB rating: 113.0. Locker was decisive with his reads, made his progressions well and avoided the Lions' pass rush when necessary. It was easily Locker's top performance of his young career.
What they said about Young's 46-yard Hail Mary catch:
• Young – “I knew everybody was going to go for Calvin (Johnson) and for the ball, trying to knock it down,” Young said. “I put myself in position to catch the ball when it was tipped, and it just came to me.”
• Hill, who completed the pass to Young after replacing an injured Matthew Stafford -- “That's a play that you don't really get to practice a lot at full speed, but guys were locked in, and knew their assignments on it, and we executed it to perfection,” Hill said. “I saw Titus just come in and grab it. That was a heck of a play by him.”
• Titans LB Akeem Ayers, who batted the pass down before it went to Young -- “I got my whole hand on it,” Ayers said. “We were in the wrong defense, we didn't play the Victory (formation) right. I saw him catch it right in front of me, but he was in the end zone. I was at a loss for words.”
Numbers you should know: Although the teams combined for 49 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, Sunday's game still didn't set a Titans' record for most points in a game by both teams. The record has stood for close to 50 years since the Oakland Raiders defeated the Houston Oilers 52-49 in 1963.
Injury update: Lions QB Stafford left the game late in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. Stafford said he tweaked his leg in practice and that the injury became progressively worse throughout the game. Stafford's status for next week's game is unknown. Titans WR Kenny Britt left the game late in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle. Britt said he could have played in overtime, but didn't want to hurt his teammates by not playing at full-strength.
Going forward: Next week, the Titans face a critical divisional showdown in Houston against the Texans, their arch-rivals. It will be Tennessee's first matchup against an AFC South opponent this season. The Lions also will meet a divisional opponent when they return home to take on the Vikings.