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Week 9 Game Recap: Tennessee Titans 20, Carolina Panthers 30


What you need to know

Tennessee Titans

The Titans offense sputtered along as Ryan Tannehill passed for 331 yards and a passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown, and two interceptions. Tannehill took advantage of soft coverage during most of the fourth quarter to put up some of his numbers, as he was not sharp throughout much of the game--especially on this second interception as he had no business making that throw. The offensive line played poorly again while three missed field goals helped seal the fate for the Titans in this one. Derrick Henry saw just two touches before halftime, but he got going in the second half with both a rushing and receiving touchdown as he finished with 99 total yards. A.J. Brown led the pack in receiving, but even he committed a costly mistake with an ugly drop that resulted in an interception.

Carolina Panthers

Kyle Allen rebounded magnificently from the debacle in San Francisco, displaying toughness against pressure, outstanding pocket mobility and awareness throughout. He had a handful of turnover-worthy throws, however, putting the ball in harmís way against double coverage. His lone interception, ironically, was a good pass to Jarius Wright that was tipped into the air. Christian McCaffrey continued to dominate the touches and, even after a slow start, produced three touchdowns Ė including a 58-yard scamper up the middle. He was not as much of a factor in the passing game, with Allen preferring to attack downfield. D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel both played phenomenal games, hardly putting a foot wrong. The pair had an excellent connection with their quarterback throughout. Samuel could have had a second touchdown on a deep post if the Titans defender in coverage had not made a tremendous play. Greg Olsen was not much of a factor in the passing game Ė he was often asked to block against an aggressive Titans defense Ė but he played his part with some nice catches when called upon. The offensive line played an excellent game in pass protection, giving Allen ample time to find his targets.

Tennessee Titans

QB Ryan Tannehill, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 39 - 331 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 4 - 38 - 1
Tannehillís day got off to a rough start as his first drive fizzled quickly, driven mainly by his indecisiveness in a collapsing pocket which ultimately led to a sack. His second drive wasnít much better as Tannehill overthrew an open receiver in the middle of the field while his offensive line let him down with back-to-back penalties. Tannehillís third drive would end in an interception that was in no way his fault, as the pass was on target to A.J. Brown but bounced off Brownís hands into the air before the Panthers defender brought it down for the interception. Tannehill showed some flare with his legs on the opening drive of the second half, picking up 25 yards on a scramble left that would help set the Titans up for their first touchdown of the day. He made a nice throw to start the fourth quarter as he put the ball just over the shoulder of A.J. Brown for a 35-yard gain--his longest pass play of the afternoon. He would follow that up with a touchdown pass to Derrick Henry, albeit Henry did all the work as it was a short screen pass that Henry took to the house. As Tannehill was trying to move down the field for a quick score later in the fourth quarter, he made an ugly throw that led to a Panthers interception--his second turnover of the day. Tannehill would make a few nice throws on a garbage-time drive late in the game, capping it off with his first rushing touchdown of the season as he found the end zone from 10 yards out.

RB Derrick Henry, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 63 - 1, Rec: 3 - 36 - 1 (3 targets)
Derrick Henry took a while to get going in this game as he finished with just four rushing yards from only two touches before halftime. He had a 13-yard gain on the second drive of the game called back due to a holding penalty, but that was his only notable play of the first half with Dion Lewis seeing more playing time than usual. Henry would get going out of the gate in the second half though, breaking off runs of 9, 7, 12, 7, and 8 yards as he was hard to bring down. Henry showed speed on a couple of those runs to the outside but also displayed his power as he was hard to bring down on a number of runs, including the eight-yard touchdown play. Henry found the end zone again near the start of the fourth quarter as he was the recipient of a screen from 23-yards out and took advantage of great blocking while also making a man miss on his way to his second receiving touchdown of the season.

RB Dion Lewis, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 20 - 0, Rec: 5 - 33 - 0 (5 targets)
Dion Lewis saw a season-high nine touches for 53 total yards in this game. He had a nice run of seven yards up the middle on the Titans third drive of the game, but Lewis followed that up with a costly fumble just two plays later. Lewis was active in the passing game, hauling in a short pass in full stride on the last drive before halftime that he took for 24 yards to get the Titans into Panthers territory. Lewis would haul in a few more screen passes in the second half, but all were for negative or short gains--as has been the case with much of his production this season.

WR A.J. Brown, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 81 - 0 (7 targets)
A.J. Brown led the Titans in targets and receiving yards in this loss to the Panthers. He hauled in a screen for his first reception of the game and did a good job turning upfield for a 23-yard gain. However, had Brown actually followed his blockers on the screen, he could have turned it into an even bigger gain. Brown had a blunder midway through the second quarter though, as he allowed a perfectly thrown pass to bounce off his hands and into those of a Panthers defender for an interception. His next touch didnít come until the start of the fourth quarter when Tannehill found Brown deep for a 35-yard gain with a well-thrown ball placed just over the shoulder of a full striding and well-covered Brown. He showed extraordinary concentration to haul that ball in with James Bradberry basically hanging off his back. Brown would take advantage of soft coverage in garbage time to haul in a few more receptions in the fourth quarter to close out his day.

WR Adam Humphries, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 65 - 0 (4 targets)
Adam Humphries caught all four of his targets for 65 yards in what was another relatively uninspiring performance. He made the only catch on the first drive for the Titans but was just short of picking up the first down as they had to settle for a field goal attempt. His next opportunity came just before halftime as Humphries moved the chains on second down with an 11-yard catch, doing a great job coming back to Tannehill who was fighting off defenders. Humphries found space in the middle of the field to convert the first third-down of the day for the Titans near the end of the third quarter. He was wide open for the reception and gained 25 yards on the play.

WR Corey Davis, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 48 - 0 (5 targets)
Corey Davis was involved in the passing game with more than one deep ball opportunity, but he could not connect on any of them as his opportunities were either underthrown or defended well. Leading into halftime, Davis actually had accounted for a net negative yardage total for the team as he only had one 11-yard reception but was called for a 15-yard facemask penalty earlier in the half. It wasnít until the fourth quarter when the Titans were driving in garbage time that Davis was more involved and hauled in three of his four receptions.


Carolina Panthers

QB Kyle Allen, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 32 - 232 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -4 - 0
The Titans emphasised pressure on Kyle Allen, hoping to rattle him after a shaky display in San Francisco last week. The young quarterback could not have responded any better, settling down after a couple of ill-advised early throws Ė including a target to Greg Olsen down the seam on his first dropback that could easily have been intercepted. Allenís pocket mobility and awareness were instrumental in his strong performance. He was consistently able to avoid the Tennessee pass rush, buying time by moving up or out of the pocket and inevitably finding a receiver open. Allen continued to operate most efficiently off play action, where his play fakes were crisp and his delivery sharp and accurate. Allen was unfortunate to be intercepted in the first half, as a pass that hit Jarius Wright in the hands popped into the air and fell into the waiting arms of a Titans defender. Allen was not shy to challenge the Tennessee secondary, chucking deep passes for sport. He connected with Curtis Samuel on a beautiful arcing throw over the outstretched arm of a Tennessee defensive back, laying it in perfectly. Later, he repeated the trick Ė and should have been punished Ė as a deep target to D.J. Moore was nearly intercepted as two Titans players vied for it. Allenís first touchdown pass came on a simple pitch and catch to Christian McCaffrey, who sprinted into the flat with the offense set up in the red zone. Wright ran an effective pick on the play to cut off pursuing Tennessee defenders. Allenís second touchdown pass was one of his most impressive plays. Standing strong against a blitzing defender right in his face, Allen lofted the ball up to Samuel in the left corner of the end zone, absorbing a huge hit as he did so. The play summed up Allenís toughness under pressure throughout the game. Allen stayed aggressive as the game wore on and the Panthers built a lead, with a beautiful touch pass to Moore down the left sideline a highlight. Allen could have added a third touchdown pass, but left a deep pass on a post route a little short for Samuel, who was poised to run under it.

RB Christian McCaffrey, 61 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 146 - 2, Rec: 3 - 20 - 1 (3 targets)
The Titans contained Christian McCaffrey effectively for the first quarter or so, but the Carolina offense soon settled in. The offensive line played with an edge, creating exploitable gaps for the shifty McCaffrey to shoot through. As is his wont, McCaffrey showed excellent patience and set up defenders well with quick cuts and darts. He caught one of the most straightforward touchdowns of his career with the offense set up in the red zone, sprinting into the right flat as Jarius Wright ran the pick to occupy the defenders in pursuit. McCaffrey punched in a rushing touchdown from the one-yard line later in the game, benefitting from excellent blocking to wall off the Titans defenders. McCaffrey was not as much of a factor in the passing game, as Allen tended to attack downfield with D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. However, the MVP candidate put the nail in the coffin for the Titans late in the game, following tremendous blocks up front to scamper 58 yards for a touchdown. The lane could not have been set up any more perfectly for McCaffrey, whose pace was simply too much. It was the final play of the day for McCaffrey, who was checked out in the tent briefly before ceding the remainder of the snaps to Reggie Bonnafon.

RB Reggie Bonnafon, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 6 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets)
Reggie Bonnafon checked in to the game in the fourth quarter after Christian McCaffrey appeared a little shaken up following his 58-yard touchdown run. Bonnafon didnít find much joy against a defense that knew the run was coming; at the time, Carolina was simply trying to run out the clock.

WR D.J. Moore, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 101 - 0 (10 targets)
D.J. Moore provided the perfect outlet for his quarterback against the Titans, who emphasised a pressure game plan. Moore stayed alive for Kyle Allen on an early third down, sprinting right and making himself available after a scramble. Moore was the target of a deep pass down the left sideline soon after, but the pass hung up a little too long in the air and, despite his best efforts, the receiver couldnít secure it. Allen went back to the well later in the game, this time putting the ball in harmís way as Moore made a despairing attempt to attack the ball with two Titans in the vicinity. Moore excelled on shorter routes, showing good timing with his quarterback. His run-after-catch ability came to the fore on a bubble screen as he converted a third-and-long situation. Moore produced a circus catch in the second half, looking in the ball over his shoulder on a deep pass down the left sideline. He initially bobbled it, but managed to regain control and tap both feet in bounds to set up the offense at the 1-yard line.

WR Curtis Samuel, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 3 - 64 - 1 (6 targets)
Curtis Samuel continued to riff with Kyle Allen, with the two linking up on a beautiful deep ball down the right sideline early. The touch on the pass was perfect, flying over a Tennessee defenderís outstretched arm and landing perfectly in Samuelís breadbasket. Samuel was targeted on a quick slant in the end zone, but Allenís pass was a little inaccurate in such a tight window and a defender closing on the receiver made the catch a difficult one. Samuelís touchdown came on another red zone opportunity, as Allen showed great toughness against the blitz, floating up the ball for his receiver to attack in the air. Samuel obliged, leaping high above the defender to haul in the football. Samuel could have added a second touchdown catch, but a deep ball thrown his way on a post route was slightly underthrown and allowed a Titans defender to bat it away.

WR Jarius Wright, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -7 - 0 (4 targets)
Jarius Wright did not enjoy his finest day at the office against the Titans. His first target appeared to be a simple catch, but the ball clanged off his hands and landed in the arms of a Titans defender. To his credit, he almost made an incredible diving catch later in the game, but it was ruled out after review as he used the ground to control the ball. Wright dropped another easy throw on a key third down late in the game after Kyle Allen had bought time to find him. Overall, Wrightís game lacked its usual sharpness.

TE Greg Olsen, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 40 - 0 (5 targets)
Greg Olsen was targeted on Kyle Allenís first pass, but he shouldnít have been. The Titans had excellent coverage and the pass should have been intercepted. The veteran tight end had no chance to make the play. A subsequent target was too low on third down, but Allen eventually connected with Olsen on a deep over route off play action. Olsen had a adjust to catch the ball, but it was a beautiful throw and catch. Olsenís best play came on a crossing pattern. After Allen escaped from the Tennessee rush, he fired a late pass to his tight end, who was able to casually make the catch as he was sprinting out of bounds.