The Tennessee Titans welcomed the New York Giants to Nissan Stadium Sunday afternoon to open the season and fell short by a score 21-20.
The Titans kicked off in the first to a raucous crowd. The Titans started the game by forcing a three and out for the Giants on their opening drive of the game. The Titans opening drive saw Kyle Philips take the ball 56 yards. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill then tossed it 13 yards to Wide Receiver Robert Woods.
He then threw to wide receiver Treylon Burks for 20 yards to put the Titans at first and goal. The Titans completed the drive with a seven-yard toss by Tannehill to Dontrell Hilliard. Randy Bullock converted the PAT, and the Titans opened the game with six drives in three minutes into the end zone for a 7-0 lead. The Titans defense swarmed the Giants and kept them in the backfield a vast majority of the first quarter.
Bullock connected on a 46-yard field goal to put the Titans up 10-0 for the first score of the second quarter. With 10 minutes left in the half, the Titans caused a Giants fumble when Jeffery Simmons knocked the ball out with the Titans recovering it when Bud Dupree picked it up. The Titans then pushed it to the five-yard line on a pass from Tannehill to tight end Geoff Swaim.
But they weren’t able to complete a pass on the next drive, so they had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Bullock to make it 13-0 Titans. With 4:09 to go in the half, the Titans almost picked it off when they tipped Jones’ pass but were unable to grab the ball before it hit the ground.
The Giants were forced to punt on the following drive. With 3:03 to go, Tannehill couldn’t find any open receiver, so he took it nine yards on his own for the first down. On the very next play, Henry took the ball 18-yards to the 47-yard line for another first down. But they couldn’t finish the effort and march to the red zone as the Giants defense forced them to punt.
That’d be it for the first half as the Titans defense held the Giants scoreless and the Titans would go into the locker room with a 13-0 lead.
In the third quarter on first and 10 on the 10, the Giants’ Saquon Barkley got loose through a gap in the Titans defense and darted down the field 68 yards for a first down at the 22-yard line. From first and goal on the four-yard line, Barkley carried it into the end zone to put the Giants on the board.
However, they’d fail to convert the PAT and the score read 13-6 Titans. Daniels would then throw for 65 yards to wide receiver Sterling Shepard with Graham Gano converting the PAT to tie the game at 13-13.
Tannehill would toss it 20 yards to Burks at the Giants 47-yard line, but with a flag on the next play, the ball was placed on the 45-yard line. On first and 18, Tannehill tossed it again to Burks for the first down, this time for a 27-yard gain. A flag would set the Titans back five yards. A few plays later, the Titans found the back of the end zone on a toss from Tannehill to Hilliard who took it 23 yards for the touchdown.
Bullock would convert on the PAT and the Titans regained the lead at 20-13. That’d be it for the third quarter as the Titans held a seven-point lead.
With 10:28 to go in the fourth quarter, the Titans lost possession when they let the ball get loose after a Giants punt with the Giants recovering in the red zone. With 8:55 to go and the Giants in the red zone, the Titans picked it on when Amani Hooker leaped in the air and snagged it. But the Titans weren’t able to do anything on their offensive possession as the Giants defense held strong.
But with under three minutes to go, the Giants were able to march into the red zone and get within field goal range. The Giants would then go for it on fourth and one with Jones carrying it and converting for a first down. Daniels tossed to Chris Myarick for a touchdown and then converted on a two-point conversion, when they gave the ball to Barkley to go up 21-20 on the Titans.
Tannehill found Philips twice more, and then Hooper a little while later, and a with a couple flags on New York, the Titans were able to march into New York territory. Tannehill then threw a pass 21 yards to Philips to put them closer to the red zone at the New York 27. The Titans would suffer a two-yard loss to the 29. Bullock, who already had nine game winning field goals in his career would attempt a 47-yard field goal on third and 13 but were blocked by the Giants. New York walked out winners 21-20.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel spoke postgame on the team’s performance and what went wrong.
“Anytime you lose, it’s a gut punch, you put a lot into it, got started how we want to, give them a lot of credit, we went flat, and we weren’t able to get anything going there in the second half,” Vrabel said.
Vrabel said they weren’t able to convert in the red zone and defensively couldn’t stop the Giants’ run game, which was the number one key to the game. He said that’s why you lose, not missing a field goal at the end of the game. He mentioned not playing the gaps and not tackling being two points of weakness as well.
Hillard ended the game with two receiving touchdowns on three receptions on four attempts from Tannehill.
“This is an unforgiving league,” Vrabel said.
The Titans next game is Sept. 19 in Buffalo against the Bills with kickoff set for 6:15 p.m.