TitansOnline.com Senior Writer and Editor Jim Wyatt offers six things that stood out for Titans in victory over the Ravens.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Here’s a look at six things that stood out for Titans in win over Ravens (plus a bonus item):
Red-hot Kevin ByardWhat a roll Titans safety Kevin Byard is on right now. Byard had two picks against the Ravens, and he now has five picks in the last two games. Byard is doing a great job finding the ball in flight, and he’s snatching it out of the air. Byard became the first player in franchise history to record five interceptions in a two-game span, and the last NFL player to accomplish the feat was Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall in 2010. Byard is on pace to finish with 12 interceptions on the season, which is the franchise’s all-time record.
The Ravens pushed the limit when delivering an unnecessary hit on Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, and tackle Taylor Lewan didn’t like it. Personally, I love seeing Lewan so fired up about defending his QB. Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon wasn’t flagged when he hit Mariota after he threw the ball, and drove him into the ground. Lewan went after him, and let off a little steam without getting penalized himself. The shot on Mariota was borderline, but it would’ve been wrong for it to go without some kind of a response. Lewan made sure that didn’t happen.
Red zone improvementThe Titans entered the game struggling in the red zone, ranked 31st in the NFL. So it was a welcome sight when the Titans found the end zone not once, not twice, but three times against the Ravens. First came Mariota’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews. Then came a one-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry. But it was the 11-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker on third down late in the contest that really stood out. Decker has been a red zone threat throughout his career, and Mariota found him for his first TD catch with Titans when it mattered most.
Adoree’ on offense
It was just one play, and it didn’t produce a touchdown. But it sure was fun to see cornerback Adoree’ Jackson line up on offense, and get a chance to carry the football. Jackson exploded through the hole for a 20-yard gain after taking the handoff from Mariota. He said it reminded him of his playing days at USC. Coach Mike Mularkey didn’t commit to using Jackson more moving forward, but he didn’t quash the idea either. I sure wouldn’t mind seeing it again.
Wesley Woodyard’s playTitans linebacker Wesley Woodyard continues to impress me, and those around him. It wasn’t took long ago when Woodyard was faced with questions about his long-term future with the club. Now, it’s hard to imagine the Titans on defense without him. Woodyard had a team-high 14 tackles on Sunday against the Ravens, including a mammoth stop on fourth-and-one at the Tennessee 17 on the first play of the fourth quarter. It was a huge play, and yet another reminder Woodyard is having a huge season.
I was happy when the NFL began allowing players an opportunity to celebrate big plays again, and I was entertained on Sunday. Did you see Matthews and his paddle and surfboard stunt after the game’s first TD? How about linebacker Daren Bates pouring shots to teammates after a special teams play? The group dance after Byard’s second interception, which included some swaying with his defensive teammates, was pretty funny, too. There
have been some good ones around the league this year, and I think it’s great.Bonus item:
Steve McNair’s sons
I’ve witnessed some pretty cool 12th Titan sword-planting ceremonies, including P.K. Subban’s a year ago. If you remember, the Predators star took his shirt off and doused himself with water at midfield. But I’ll also never forget the excitement and pure joy Steve McNair’s sons displayed as they ran out of the tunnel — Tyler doing flips as Trent pumped on the crowd – on Sunday. It was a great moment on the same field where their father left his mark.