A win is a win, especially when it marks five straight wins and the second consecutive season sweep vs the AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts, but Sunday’s 19-10 win was an especially ugly one.
"It feels really good," Titans safety Kevin Byard said. "To sweep them two years in a row, obviously after their owner (Jim Irsay) makes all these statements about, 'We've got to beat the Titans' and stuff like that.'
"It feels really good, and we're definitely going to celebrate this. As of right now, we don't have to worry about them. We've got a division game against Houston now we have to get on the road."
When Colts quarterback Matt Ryan found Parris Campbell in the back of the end zone with just over four minutes left in the third quarter, it was the first and only offensive touchdown of the game, and it came after 41 minutes of on-field action.
The teams combined to average a paltry 4.5 yards per play on offense. At times, it looked like a Big Ten West college game had broken out on the field instead of the professional football game that it was.
As is often the case in the Mike Vrabel era, the Titans did just enough to squeak out a hard-fought win. This season, though, those wins have come with a bit more struggle so far.
"It's great to get turnovers and, for the most part, take care of the football," Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said. "That's going to be the formula if you guys haven't figured that out. That's how we're going to have to play.
"It's a battle; that's a good defense, a very good defense. We were close on some things, and we'll have to continue to look and work. But I'm just extremely proud of these guys. I'm proud of all three phases.'
Below are the things that stood out — good and bad — from the Titans’ Week 7 win over the Colts:
Good: Andrew Adams
In just his third game for the Titans, seventh-year safety Andrew Adams had the game of his career on Sunday.
Getting his second start in the last three games, the September pickup off the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad tied Amani Hooker for the team lead with 10 tackles and returned his first-career pick six in the second quarter. His touchdown was the Titans' only of the game.
"Like I said before, it's just the culture in the building," Adams said. "Vrabes (Mike Vrabel), the staff from top down does a great job of embracing everybody, not just Derrick Henry or Ryan Tannehill. From top to bottom they coach everybody all out. They just embrace everybody as a family. So, I think that really makes the difference in feeling wanted, and being here and being able to help the team is great.
Bad: The Offense
It was a rough day for the Tennessee Titans offense. And unlike many of the previous games this season, it wasn't even a tale of two halves situation with a robust attack in the first half and a letdown after halftime.
The offense struggled throughout, gaining just 254 yards and 57 plays for a 4.5 yard per play average. Ryan Tannehill finished 13-20 with 132 yards, throwing no interceptions, but no touchdowns either.
Derrick Henry eventually passed the 100-yard mark, finishing with 128 yards on 30 carries, but his per carry average was 4.3 and he made just one run longer than 20 yards, which is only his second of that distance this season.
If it weren't for Randy Bullock hitting all four of his field goals and Adams' pick six, Sunday could have been a lot uglier than it was for the Titans.
Good: The Pass Rush
Once again, the Titans pass rush stepped up in a big way. Tennessee compiled three sacks and 10 quarterback hits in the win, all of which came from the front seven.
Bud Dupree had one of his best games of the season with a sack, two QB hits, and eight pressures, one of which led to Adams' pick six. Jeffery Simmons had a sack, two tackles for a loss, and two QB hits, Denico Autry had a sack and a tipped ball, and Rashad Weaver was in the backfield on multiple plays.
The only negative takeaway from the defensive line was Simmons' fourth-quarter ankle injury. He eventually came back in the game, but he was visibly limping a bit. His status will be something to keep an eye on this week.
Bad: The Receiving Corps
It's partially a product of the offensive struggles and play-calling overall, but other than the subject of our next Good item below, here were the Titans pass catchers on Sunday:
- Cody Hollister: 2 catches for 32 yards
- Robert Woods: 3 catches for 26 yards
- Henry: 3 catches for 10 yards
- Hassan Haskins: 1 catch for five yards
- Mason Kinsey: 1 catch for three yards
That's two former practice squad members, two running backs, and the prized free agent signing of the offseason. It's simply not good enough for a team that wants to compete in the playoffs.
Good: Austin Hooper
As many have been hoping for all season after the Titans picked up the two-time Pro Bowl tight end in March, the offense finally got Austin Hooper involved in a substantial way.
After catching just six passes for 55 yards in the first five games of the season, Hooper caught three huge first downs for 56 yards on Sunday, including a juggling, acrobatic 19-yarder late in the fourth quarter that set up the game-sealing field goal.
"I got open," Hooper said. "Ryan (Tannehill) hit me. I mean, I just got more opportunities to do stuff. And Ryan (Tannehill) saw the advantageous look. Other weeks, just by the defense that they are playing, I just wasn't in it progression-wise. So, Ryan (Tannehill) just gave me some cool opportunities to try to make the most of it.
Interesting: Malik Willis
Rookie quarterback Malik Willis has been an object of fascination for Titans fans and media since being drafted in the third round in April. On Sunday, Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing joined that list.
Willis saw his first on-field action since the Buffalo Bills blowout in week 2, lining up at receiver, being part of a poorly executed trick play that resulted in a turnover, and subbing in for Tannehill when he briefly went out for an injury.
In Willis' one play under center, he handed the ball off for a short gain that was negated due to a penalty. It will be interesting to see how Downing incorporates the rookie's tantalizing talent going forward.