In a game that Brian Orakpo called a “must win” on Friday, the Tennessee Titans turned in their most convincing victory of the season, routing the Green Bay Packers, 47-25, Sunday.
The victory evened the Titans’ record this season at 5-5 and keeps them squarely in the race in the AFC South, in second place behind the Houston Texans.
“We don’t want to get behind the eight-ball. This definitely was a must-win to stay in the thick of this thing for a playoff run. That’s another team that’s trying to fight for its life as well and a very talented team. We knew we had to bring it,” Orakpo said. “This is a different Titans team. We’re not the typical Titans team that plays good for a half or three quarters and just folds in the fourth. We were in it throughout the whole entire game.”
The 47 points are the most the Titans have scored in a game since 2009 against the Rams. Tennessee scored six touchdowns in the game by six different players.
“It’s really about giving those guys a opportunity to make plays,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said.
The Titans dominated from the outset, rolling out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and being in command the entire game. After the Titans defense held following a surprise onside kick to open the game, running back DeMarco Murray put the Titans in front on the first offensive play from scrimmage, going 75 yards to the end zone.
Tennessee’s defense held the Packers at bay again, on the second series, the Titans moved downfield, scoring on a trick play when Murray found Delanie Walker on a halfback pass for a 10-yard TD. That capped a crazy drive where Packers defensive lineman Letroy Guion hit Marcus Mariota on a play that had been blown dead. Taylor Lewan took exception to that and was ejected after bumping an official in the aftermath of the play.
Lewan’s day may have ended early on that drive, but the Titans were just beginning, scoring again with eight seconds play in the quarter on Mariota’s 9-yard touchdown throw to Anthony Fasano.
The Packers finally got some offense going, getting 10 points in the second period, but the Titans added two more touchdowns, as Mariota found Rishard Matthews from 32 yards out and Kendall Wright from 6 yards out to make it 35-10 before Green Bay cut it to 35-16 at the half. The last of those three scoring passes in the first half gave Mariota 20 touchdown passes on the season, making him the first Titans QB with at least 20 in a season since Steve McNair in 2003.
The Titans managed to keep the Packers at arm’s length in the second half, getting a field goal and another touchdown, while Green Bay attempted to rally, but never got closer than 13 points.
“We felt like this was a game we had to make a statement about our team,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said.
Mariota had a banner day, throwing for four touchdowns as he completed 19 of 26 passes for 295 yards on the day. Murray, wound up with 123 yards on 17 attempts, while Walker caught nine of the 11 passes thrown his way for 124 yards and a touchdown.
The Titans now travel to Indianapolis for a rematch with the Colts, heading to Lucas Oil Stadium where they are 0-9 all-time, and also have never beaten Andrew Luck. It is another “must win” in order to stay in the AFC South race, where the Titans are a game-and-a-half ahead of division-leading Houston and a half game ahead of the Colts.
For cornerback Jason McCourty, who is the longest-tenured Titan, having been with the team since 2009, the jelling of this team is what excites him.
“I keep getting that statement, ‘meaningful football,’” McCourty said. “It’s nice just to get a team that everybody believes in one another each Sunday that we go out there. Everybody in the locker room believes we’re going to win the game and everybody in this locker room has aspirations for beyond the regular season. It’s a nice feeling.”