Videos by OutKick
Tennessee Titans had a bounceback win against the San Francisco, 20-17, on Thursday, inching the Titans closer to the playoffs.
Finding a path to the postseason has been a trying objective for the Titans. A Houston Texans loss, 23-point defeat to the New England Patriots and six-point loss against a frail Pittsburgh team last week began to weigh any hopes of the Titans having the right rhythm to make a deep run in the playoffs. Should they make it.
Tennessee led a balanced win on Thursday night to find their way back to dark horse status, or robust contender out of the AFC.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was efficient, AJ Brown mossed San Francisco’s secondary and the defense found a way to get 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo out of sync with his offense.
Wideout Deebo Samuel was the exception, making the Titans defense pay with 159 yards on nine catches. With Samuel already on a tear for the year, Tennessee made sure to level out the production by shutting down the rest of San Francisco’s offense. Lead back Jeff Wilson, Jr. had 45 yards on 14 carries and the second lead receiver on the night for the Niners was fullback Kyle Juszcyzk with three catches and 45 yards.
Bud Dupree, Denico Autry and the defensive line kept Garoppolo twitchy — unable to get George Kittle involved and at the root of some errant overthrows.
Titans cornerback Janoris Jenkins picked off Garoppolo in the first quarter as the Niners were a short toss away from a touchdown. In the third, Amani Hooker injected some energy back into Nissan Stadium, down 10-3, with a well-timed pick on one of the Garoppolo overthrows.
Ryan Tannehill didn’t have a spectacular performance in the first half, but when his number was called in the final two quarters to rally the team back, he rose to the occasion.
Fourteen unanswered points scored in the third and first two minutes of the fourth quarter put the Titans up 17-10, preceding a Brandon Aiyuk score with two minutes left to tie the score.
Tannehill led the offense into Niners territory — aided by a bold 23-yard run by the former receiver — in a two-minute drill that culminated to a 44-yard setup for kicker Randy Bullock. The kick, flying mere inches inside the upright, sailed through and the Titans were victors.
Kyle Shanahan stated in the postgame interview that at least three touchdowns were left on the field by his offense, a subtle nod to Garoppolo’s omissions on the night.
If the Colts (8-6) lose to the Arizona Cardinals (10-4) on Saturday, Tennessee (10-5) will clinch the AFC South.
“Came out tonight, played clean football, found a way to win. A gritty game in the end, we love it,” Tannehill said in the postgame interview.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela