The eight sacks were season-high for the Tennessee Titans defense on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Titans also held the Colts to just five yards in the fourth quarter to help in the come-from-behind 20-16 victory.
But while all those things are nice, if not for Kevin Byard’s fumble recovery, the Tennessee Titans are probably not talking about a comeback and regaining first place in the AFC South.
It was Byard’s recovery at the 4-yard line of a gift fumble when Colts running back Marlon Mack couldn’t hang on to a pitch on a toss play that finally ignited a stagnant Titans offense, giving them easy access to a touchdown that cut the Colts’ lead to 16-13 late in the third quarter.
Marcus Mariota’s 2-yard touchdown to Delanie Walker helped to start the Titans’ comeback, and the running game’s sudden fourth-quarter awakening played a big role too.
But it was Byard’s alertness and ability to be a ball magnet that spearheaded the Tennessee rally.
“It was a crucial time in the game,” said Byard. We needed to get a turnover to spark the offense a little bit,” Byard said. “Any time we’re on the field, we have to make a big play to spark this team and we were able to do that with the turnover.”
It was Byard’s second fumble recovery of the season to go along with six interceptions.
Count Titans coach Mike Mularkey among those who have been impressed and pleased with Byard’s nose for the football.
“I don’t know what it is, he just does it, and I hope he keeps doing it, need that,” Mularkey said.
And after watching film of the play on Monday, Mularkey came away even more impressed with what Byard did to recover the football.
“Kevin is about 20 yards away when that ball is fumbled by the back, and there’s a mad scramble for it,” Mularkey said. “They literally have two opportunities to get it and somehow Kevin Byard, who has a knack for getting the ball, came up with it. It was just effort, a lot of effort, and a lot of effort by a lot of guys yesterday trying to get that, but he is the one that came up with it when it was all said and done.”
Running back splits?
In the aftermath of Derrick Henry’s big fourth quarter with all 79 of his rushing yards, the questions are arising as to whether the second-year back from Alabama needs to supplant veteran DeMarco Murray as the Titans’ feature back, considering Murray has struggled with just 19 yards total over the past two games.
Coach Mike Mularkey plans to stick with the status quo of the running back tandem with both Henry and Murray having their fair share of plays.
“I think Derrick has made some plays, made some runs. He does some runs that are designed for him that we put him in there for and he’s been productive,” Mularkey said. “DeMarco, again the way we started the game yesterday in that first half, I’m not sure anybody in this room could have made a yard the way we blocked up front. We still scored on the two drives that we had it and that was without a running game.
“You’ve got to look at the whole picture and see who’s had opportunities, who’s got the plays blocked well, who’s made some runs that weren’t there or were there. We’re happy we have – again, I’m going to say it, we’re very fortunate to have the two guys that we have. They’re both effective in a lot of ways.”
Wide receiver Rishard Matthews who was out Sunday with a hamstring injury, will be day-to-day with the injury this week as the Titans prepare to host the Texans.
Also, safety Da’Norris Searcy who left the win over the Colts with an ankle injury, is day-to-day as well.