After four consecutive misses by new Tennessee Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski, Titans fans had their hearts in their mouths when the former New England Patriot trotted out for his fifth attempt of the night with the game on the line, down by a single point to the Denver Broncos.
Tennessee’s kicking game last year was atrocious, and Gostkowski was meant to be an instant upgrade. After the offense mustered a methodical drive deep into Broncos territory, the embattled kicker redeemed himself and hit the game-winning 25-yard field goal with 17 seconds left to play, picking up a 16-14 victory in Week 1.
Derrick Henry’s Maturation
The Titans offense played an efficient and balanced game, continuing their momentum from the 2019 season.
Although Derrick Henry ran for 116 yards, it took him 31 attempts to do so. It was not a typical blockbuster performance from Henry, but it showed his maturation as a runner. The Broncos did an excellent job in mitigating any possible cutback runs against the former Heisman winner. Henry is known for making one cut and exploding for long-yardage runs. His dynamic speed and strength demoralizes defenses when he is able to make these plays. However, those opportunities were few and far between on Monday night, leading to more four- and five-yard runs.
Early in his career, at times, Henry would try to hit the home-run on certain plays, and would lose a few yards instead of taking what the defense gave him. On Monday night, those small, but efficient, runs put the Titans offense in great positions to extend drives.
Corey Davis’s Big Game
Corey Davis had a phenomenal night and showed encouraging signs for the Titans offense.
It was mentioned prior that, in order for the Titans to continue to improve this season, other vital weapons on the offense had to step up. Davis responded with seven receptions for 101 yards, and made crucial contested-catches late in the game.
However, Corey Davis looked like a receiver who wanted to show-out during a contract year.
Play of the Game
Perhaps no play was bigger than Titans stalwart Jeffery Simmons’ fourth-down stop at the goal line, late in the first half.
Broncos quarterback Drew Lock threw a shovel pass to tight end Jake Butt, when Simmons blew the play up. That kept the game tied going into halftime and proved to be a critical moment in a highly-contested battle.
The Titans’ defensive front showed why their fans should be excited for what’s to come, and Jadeveon Clowney’s debut showcased why he will be a huge asset to the pass rush.
The former Houston Texan wreaked havoc in the backfield, causing consistent pressure and recording a sack. Clowney was aggressive most of the night, and at times, was overeager, losing contain on run plays. However, he and Simmons were clearly a mismatch for the Broncos offensive line.
For Tennessee, the trio of Clowney, Simmons, and Harold Landry will cause problems for opposing offenses throughout the year. We saw a glimpse of it last Monday night, albeit with some expected rust due to a summer without a preseason.
(Featured Image Credit: Donald Page / TennesseeTitans.com)