By Greg Arias
It was a game for the ages and those who witnessed in in person on Sunday will be talking about the Tennessee Titans come-from-behind 26-23 overtime victory over the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
But was it the greatest game in the history of the Titans in Nashville and inside the walls of their East Bank home?
Following a 37 yard Jake Elliott field goal with 6:23 remaining in the 10-minute overtime to give the visitors a 23-20 lead, Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense put together an historic drive, but perhaps not the greatest in the team’s history in Nashville.
Following the field goal, Mariota and his offensive mates took possession at their own 25 yard-line, needing 75 yards for the win or a field goal to tie the game. The next 6:14 seconds will live forever in team lore. Not only did the Titans cover the 75 yards to the end-zone for the game winning touchdown when Mariota found Corey Davis for a game-winning 10 yard touchdown, but he and the Titans offense had to convert on three, yeas, three 4th downs on the drive to produce the win.
Mike Keith has been the radio voice of the Titans since 1998 He was on the now famous call of the “Music City Miracle” in 1999 that propelled the Titans on to their only Super Bowl appearance in their first season as the Titans. He shared his thoughts on Sunday’s win.
“I don’t know if it’s the greatest game every played in this stadium because of what we were able to do in the early days of the organization. There were some pretty special games, you know the 36-35 first one ever played here beating Cincinnati was pretty great,” said Keith. “Back to back weeks in 2006, the comeback against the Giants. The 60-yard field goal to beat the Colts. 2009, Young to Kenny Britt to win the game on the last play that completed a 99 yard drive.
“What I think it’s really about, it’s more about getting a win like this for the first time in years and having our fan base have a chance to experience that, which has been lacking here, and it feels sensational,” Keith said. “This is what it felt like in the early days after several wins. It’s been a long time since it felt like this.”
One thing is for sure, we saw several Titans players grow up on Sunday.
Mariota, who has had great games before, but perhaps none more clutch than that he produced today.
For the game he finished 30 of 44 for 344 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with a quarterback rating of 99.4. Oh, and he added another score on the ground, carrying the ball 10 times for 46 yards and the touchdown.
His new favorite receiver, Corey Davis showed exactly what John Robinson and the Titans saw in him that made them select him in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Davis collected nine receptions for 161 yards- his first career 100-yard game- and the game winning score.
Fellow wide receiver Taywon Taylor also had a career day, grabbing seven passes for 77 yards, including a reception on the first 4th down conversion of the game winning drive.
Facing a fourth and 15 from their own 31 yard-line, Mariota found Taylor on the Titans sideline for a 19-yard gain to midfield. It would be his last, and biggest catch of the game.
“Corey Davis, fantastic. Marcus Mariota doing what he does and showing that he has that ability” added Keith. “Taywon Taylor, a career high for him. Tajae Sharpe coming back with a touchdown catch, and even guys bouncing back after bad plays, I mean, I think it’s a big deal.”
Entering the season, most so-called experts had the Titans winning one of their first four game, but those prognosticators didn’t consult the Titans. Now 3-1 with wins over division favorites Jacksonville and Houston along with Sunday’s win over the defending champs, only a crazy, rain-delayed disaster in Miami has dampened the first quarter of this season for the Titans.
There’s a lot of football remaining to be played, starting with a trip to Buffalo next Sunday, but one thing is certain about this team. They are fighters.
As for the three fourth down conversions on the final drive, Keith, who was clearly winded and noticeably losing some of his voice, had a final thought.
“I’ve never seen it before,” concluded Keith. “I hope I never see it again, because I don’t think my heart can take it.”