Titans force 3 turnovers, beat Ravens 26-13By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer Monday, Sep 19, 2011
Then they went out and added their own piece of history.
The Titans gave Munchak his first coaching win in their home opener by racking up their most offensive yards ever against Baltimore in a 26-13 win Sunday. The Titans rolled up 432 yards against the vaunted Ravens defense with Matt Hasselbeck(notes) throwing for 358 yards and a touchdown.
“If you are going to get your first win, it is a good team to get your first win against,” said Munchak, who had a cooler of Gatorade dumped on him in the final seconds before owner Bud Adams gave him a game ball in the locker room. “And hopefully, it helps build confidence in our players in a lot of different areas and kind of carries over into next week and the rest of the season.”
Munchak excused the Ravens (1-1) for possibly getting caught off-guard by his Titans (1-1). He said neither fans nor Baltimore really knew what to expect after Tennessee’s 16-14 opening loss at Jacksonville.
“We found out a little bit more about ourselves,” Munchak said.
The Ravens came in determined to stop Chris Johnson, and they held him to 53 yards on 24 carries. But Hasselbeck, along with Kenny Britt’s(notes) nine catches for 135 yards and a TD, made them pay by throwing for more yards than any Tennessee quarterback against the Ravens. The Titans wound up holding the ball for 35 minutes, 52 seconds. The defense did its part too, sacking Joe Flacco(notes) three times and forcing three turnovers in holding Baltimore to 229 yards.
“Anytime you have a home run hitter like that, that’s the focus,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis(notes) said. “The focus is Chris Johnson. We got after him. They went away from him because they saw we were really getting after him. They started throwing the ball, and Hasselbeck is a veteran quarterback and he got the ball out very quickly.”
Nate Washington(notes) also had seven more receptions for 99 yards, and Rob Bironas(notes) kicked four field goals for the Titans. At times, Britt looked as if he was toying with the Ravens’ secondary, often turning around at the last second to catch passes. Jared Cook(notes) also caught a 33-yarder over Ed Reed(notes), who had to apologize to Britt for an inadvertent facemask while tackling him earlier in the game.
The Titans even converted two fourth-and-1 situations against the Ravens.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone get a fourth-and-1 on them,” Hasselbeck said.
It was a big letdown by the Ravens after their 35-7 rout of the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers to open the season. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh credited the Titans with beating the Ravens every way a team can.
“I don’t have any theory right now,” Harbaugh said. “Everybody’s going to have a theory, and none of them are going to be right. We didn’t make plays when we needed to make plays. We didn’t get off the field on third down. That’s really the bottom line.”
The Titans set the tone from the opening kickoff, deferring to let Baltimore take the ball on offense. Tennessee forced the Ravens to go three-and-out on their first two possessions, with Alterraun Verner(notes) picking off Flacco’s pass to end the third. Playing field position helped the Titans push the Ravens to start two drives at their own 4 and held them to 25 yards in the first quarter.
Baltimore managed to tie it up at 10 apiece going into halftime after Ray Rice(notes) turned a short Flacco pass into a 31-yard TD, then David Reed(notes) returned a kickoff 77 yards to set up the first of Billy Cundiff’s(notes) two field goals.
But Tennessee took control in the third quarter, outscoring Baltimore 10-0 and outgaining the Ravens 147-43. Javon Ringer(notes) finished off the opening drive with a 10-yard TD run on fourth-and-1 with Johnson on the bench. Johnson heard scattered boos as he struggled, including dropping a pass in the third quarter. He said the boos don’t bother him because he knows he’ll be cheered once he has a good play.
Johnson also loved to see Hasselbeck playing well.
“A lot of teams come in thinking they can just load the box and if they stop me, they can win. … It just showed we have other playmakers,” he said. “We have other ways to beat you. Hopefully, they help out and let other teams around the NFL know you just can’t stack the box and try to stop me and win.”
Notes: Lewis came in with 2,498 tackles, and he had eight against the Titans. … Tennessee now is 8-5 in home openers since opening LP Field in 1999. … Ravens NT Terrance Cody had a concussion, and returner David Reed was in a sling after the game with an injury to the AC joint in his shoulder. … Hasselbeck is the 33rd NFL player to throw for at least 30,000 yards in his career. This was the 22nd 300-yard passing game of his career. … Britt now has six 100-yard receiving games in his career.