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Titans were 8 & 4, had won 6 of last 7 games and were tied for 1st in the AFC south. Cards were 5 & 7 and a hair-breadth away from being out of contention. (Note - Cards were still trying to figure out "who they were." By the time they figured it out, the playoffs could be over). Tennessee profiled statistically as a middle of the pack team (#22 on offense/#11 on defense) that just kept finding ways to win.
Cards Boot Titans 12 - 7
Answers to Unasked Questions:
Playoffs still an extremely remote possibility
Gabbert has the equipment to succeed in the NFL, but there are many aspects of his game that will have to improve (like not picking up presnap reads or missing wide open receivers). Howevever, bottom line is that, with Gabbert running the ship, we did beat a division leader
We came back to win a low-scoring game where the tiniest of errors could determine the the outcome.
The OL was the subject of much ridicule by members of the CBS announcing crew (and deservedly so). The Titans teed off on Gabbert at will - what was it? 8 sacks?
Kudos to Cardinal RB's (K Williams and Penny) who found a way to dent the LOS more andf more as the game wore on.
Not crazy about the way Patrick Peterson pulled up on a pass completion because he evidently felt the WR should be flagged for offensive pass interference.
Looks like T Williams has settled in nicely opposite PP21. Even more impressive than his interception was his decleating hit on D Walker to rob the TItans of a 2H first down
Card run defense played 60 consecutive minutes of shutdown football. .
Despite not having a whole lot to play for, standing-wise, the Cards played their hearts out (& were rewarded with a "W").
Memo to Phil Dawson - (Well, you were't perfect, but 4 out of 5 ain't bad).
Cards were held to zero TD's and still won. Hero of the Game: kicker Phil Dawson (responsible for all 12 Cardinal points).
Tennessee received. TB on KO. Titans netted minus-2 yards on way to 3 & out. Punt returned by Golden to Card 32. A +12 yard pass to Nelson was wiped out by a sack for minus-8. Lee's punt went O-O-B at the Titan 9. A +16 yard completion to Decker helped move Ten to just short of midfield, but a stuff of Henry for minus-4 anda 6-yd sack of Mariota foeced Titans to punt from their own 43. Punt went out of bounds at the Card 22.
A minus-8 yd sack of Gabbert set up another Card 3 & out. Punt (net holding penalty) gave Titans the ball at their own 17. Quarter ended 5 plays later. (Note - Mularkey took advantage of Cardinal substitution "lethargy" by executing a "hurry up" offense and drawing a 5-yd penalty).
1st Quarter Score: Titans 0 - Cards 0.
- Ball on Titan 33. Three plays into the 2Q, Kern's punt went out of bounds at rhe Card 12. A sack on the third play of the Card series set up still another 3 & out. Cards punted from their own 17, and Lee's punt was downed at midfield.
- Mariota used the excellent Titan field position to peck his way to the Cardinal 6, where Henry circled left end for a disputed TD. (To us, it looked like most of Henry's body was out of bounds before he reached out to touch the stanchion). "Play stood." (Longest gain of 9-play drive was an 11-yd complletion to Decker).Titans 7 - Cards 0.
- KO returned by Foster to Card 15. Gabbert immediately took a sack for minus-7 yards. A 14-yd pass to Nelson helped dig the Cards out of a field-position hole, but Lee still had to punt from his own 44. O-O-B at the Titan 11 with 3:06 till halftime.
- A C Jones sack of Mariota led to a 58-yd Kern punt. Punt returned to Cardinal 31. 1:49 on clock. A 10-yd completion to Foster helped move the Cards to near midfield, but they had to punt from their own 45. Punt returned to the Titan 26.
- Titans managed to move to Card 40, where Succop's 58-yd FG attempt - with 0:02 on the clock - hit the crossbar.
First Half Score: Titans 7 Cards 0.
Cards received. KO returned to Card 23. CBS crew praising receiving potential of Card TE's - specifically Gresham. On cue, Gresham caught a Gabbert pass for +21 yds. Later in the series, a +23-yd pass to Fitz was followed by 2 sacks sandwiched around an 11-yd scramble. Dawson's 47-yd FG attempt from the Titan 29 was good. Titans 7 Cards 3.
KO returned to Titan 26. Cards held Titans to 3 & out. Turning point of game - Mularkey faked a punt on 4th & 1. Weems came up a yard short. (An overly generous spot by the officials initially gave Titans a 1st down, but onfurther review, turned the ball over to the Cardinals on downs. The way the game was going, all the TItans had to do was play tight defense and hang onto the 7 pt lead. Instead, the change of possession gave the Cards new life.
Card ball on Titan 35. Cards had trouble moving the ball from inside the Titan 10. On the fifth play from scrimmage, Dawson's 23-yd FG attempt was good. (One pt game). Titans 7 Cards 6.
KO returned to the Titan 28. Mariota led the Titans to within striking distance at the Cardinal 27, where his pass for R Matthews was intercepted by T Williams and returned to the Cardinal 16.. Gains of +8 (pass to Fitz) , +4 (run by K Willliams) and +15 (pass to K Willaims) ended the quarter.
Third Quarter Score: Titans 7 - Cards 6
- 1st & 10 at Card 43. Penny up the middle for +9, Gabbert to Seals-Jones for +20. Holding call on Shipley disrupted the Cardinal drive at the Titan 22. Dawso's 40-yd attempt was wide right. (Bad thoughts throughout Card fandome).
- Titan ball at their own 30. 3 & out (no fake punt this time). Kern's 55-yd punt returned to Card 15 with 9:59 on clock. BA pulled an end-around out of his bag of tricks and C Williams circled right end for 33-yards. A defensive holding call followed by an 18-yd completion to Penny set up a 32 yard Dawson FG. This time he didn't miss. Cards pulled ahead (by 2). Cards 9 - Titans 7.
- 5:59 left to play. TB on KO. On first play of scrimmage, Josh Bynes (occupying a "short centerfield" position in the secondary) stepped in and intercepted Mariota's pass for D Walker and returned it to the Titan 7. (Forget about a TD). Cards lost 12 yds on a Titan sack and a 4-yd loss by Foster. Dawson's 35-yd FG attempt was good (It will take a TD to beat us). Cards 12 - Titans 7.
- TB on KO. 3:45 left. A minus-8 yd sack by Reddick helped stifle the Titan drive at their own 29 with a 4th *& 18 so Mularkey decided that Titans should punt. Punt returned to the Card 25 with 2:00 left to play. Cards stayed conservative, forcing Titans to use up their 3 time-outs before the Card punt handed the Titans the ball at the Titam 22 with 1:27 to go. Four incompletions. Two knees. Game over.
Notable Game Stats.
Final Score: Cards 12 - Titans 7.
Passing: Gabbert was 17 of 26 for 178 yards, 0 TD and 0 Int. (Mariota was 16 of 31 for 159 yds, 0 TD's and 2 picks).
Rushing: K Williams gained 73 yds on 14 carries. C Williams gained 33 yds on one carry. (Titan runners Murray and Henry gained a combined total of 54 yds on 19 carries).
Card rush defense gave up 3.0 yds per rushing play (Card rushers averaged 4.7)
Receiving: Fitz led the Cards with 5 catches.
Turnovers: Plus-2. Cards intercepted 2 passes and gave up no interceptions Neither team gave away any fumbles.
Penalties: Cards were penalized 5 times. Titans 6
- Run/Pass Ratio: Cards: 29/17. (Titans 22/16)
Field Goals: Cards 4 for 5 Titans 0 for 1
Net Punting Yards: Lee averaged 42.7. Kern averaged (46.7)
Tackles: Dansby 8, Baker 7, C Jones 5, Peterson 4.
Sacks: 3. (C Jones, Reddick, Pierre). Gabbert was sacked 8 times.
Interceptions: T Williams and Bynes had one apiece. Gabbert gave up none.
Third Down Efficiency: Cards were 3 of 14 (21%. Titans: 4 of 12 for 33%).
Red Zone Efficiency: Cards were 0 of 3 - 0%. (Titans: 1 of 1 - 100%).
Time of Possession: Cards 33:49/ Titans: 26:11
K Williams ran bigger than his size. Penny's beginning to look comfortable both as a runner and receiver.
2H run game was more like it.
No interceptions thrown/no fumbles left on ground
We won a low-scoring knuckle-biter.
C Jones (league leader in sacks) is becoming a more versatile play maker.
Josh Bynes is "living the dream" - from undrafted unknown to a consistent cog in the defense.
T Williams is settling in as PP21's opposite bookend corner.
Baker is becoming increasingly more reliable.
Dawson wasn't perfect, but his 12-points looked sweet compared to their 7.
We didn't let our rash of injuries get in the way of winning.
No more glaring injuries we're aware of.
The Dark Side
The 8 Sacks - Great way to run out of QB's.
Gabbert - Part of it is due to porous, pass blocking, but he still misses too many open men and is not very accurate deep. May be a bit "non-instinctive" sensing the pass rush (& escape routes).
PP21 - On one play, he thought he was interfered with and pulled up in coverage. You just don't do that in the pros.
Coaching - If reports are true (that Dawson's problems come from his being uncomfortable following through within the context of Amos Jones' blocking schemes, it begs the question: "Wouldn't a good way to boost Phil's success-rate be to change the freakin' blocking scheme?
Third Downs, Red Zones Crunch Time - We're still not making a high enough percentage of clutch plays needed for us to win consistently..
We won. We beat a division leader. We won without scoring a TD. Chandler Jones is having a heckuva season. Some of our younger players (Bynes, Reddick, Seals-Jones, C Williams, Budda, Penny) rose to the occasion.
It's not the same as making the playoffs, but there's a lot about this team to root for.