Don’t count on the Titans using the same formula to clinch a win this Sunday in Houston.
They had to pull out every trick in the book to eke out a 44-41 victory in overtime against Detroit.
The Titans used a Music City Miracle-style lateral on a punt return for one score.
RB Darius Reynaud took a kickoff 105 yards for another TD.
Receiver Nate Washington made an acrobatic catch off the back of a defender’s helmet for a 71-yard TD.
And CB Alterraun Verner ripped the ball away from Lion tight end Brandon Pettigrew to race 72 yards for a defensive touchdown.
All that and it still came down to a Rob Bironas kick in overtime to beat Detroit in Nashville.
“This was definitely the wildest game,” said Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt. “We’ll probably have five of the top 10 plays of the week.”
The Titans set an NFL record by scoring five touchdowns of at least 60 yards. The spectacular plays may fill highlight reels, but they don’t mask some of the Titans glaring weaknesses as they prepare to face the 3-0 Texans. Tennessee (1-2) is dead last in the NFL in running the football. On defense, the Titans are second to last in stopping the run.
Titans RB Chris Johnson is off to a ghastly start with 45 yards rushing – for the season. Averaging 1.4 yards per carry, Johnson is the league’s No. 65 rusher and is behind 10 quarterbacks.
QB Jake Locker is the team’s leading rusher. He’s carried the ball eight times for 67 yards.
It doesn’t get much better on the defensive side where the Titans are surrendering an average of 37.6 points per game, last in the NFL. They have allowed two running backs to rush for 100 yards and have surrendered four rushing TDs.
With gaping holes on defense, Houston RB Arian Foster is not exactly the player the Titans want to face. Foster has rushed for 294 yards and backup Ben Tate has added another 106 yards.
It may take another miraculous strip and touchdown return from Verner to energize the Titans. But will lightning strike twice?
“I’ve never done that before in my life at any level of football,” said Verner. “I’m not the biggest guy so I’m not going to be taking the ball away from people.”
Verner said he decided to try to take the ball away because Pettigrew didn’t realize he was in the area.
“The tight end didn’t see me when he turned so when I hit him it was a shock,” said Verner. “I thought why not try it. The worst thing that could happen is I’ll make the tackle. When I got the ball, all I saw was Stafford and it didn’t look like he was going to get there,” he said referring to Lions QB Matthew Stafford.
As for Nate Washington’s off-the-helmet catch, he said he wasn’t trying to do anything spectacular.
“I was just trying to catch the ball,” said Washington. “It was one of those plays where you had to have trust. We said if we got that same coverage again we were going to try it. So Jake threw it up there and I was able to make the catch.”
The Titans game in Houston is scheduled to kick off Sunday at noon.