The Tennessee Titans were able to defeat the New Orleans Saints in a Week 10 street fight. The Titans were favored in the game and most fans expected a win, but the way they accomplished it had to be surprising to most.
It wasn’t the Titans’ offense, which has been one of the most potent in the NFL for the past two seasons, and it wasn’t the Titans’ new and improved defense that gets massive credit every week.
It was the least appreciated phase of football: special teams.
It wasn’t just one aspect of special teams that made plays, however, as every unit found a way to contribute — and they had to; the Saints are consistently one of the best teams in the NFL at using special teams as an advantage, part of the reason they are always a competitive group.
Take a look at some numbers to show how well they perform week to week:
- The Saints are 8th in the NFL in average kickoff return yards(24.4)
- The Saints are 6th in the NFL in average punt return yards(12.0)
- The Saints are 3rd in the NFL in average drive start position(32 yard line)
Now, how did the Saints do in those categories on Sunday against the Titans?
- The Saints averaged 21.1 yards per kickoff return.
- The Saints averaged 4 yards per punt return.
- The Saints started at their 25.4 yard line on average.
Not only did the Titans succeed in three key areas that helped them win the field position battle, which turned into scoring chances, but they scored 11 points on special teams themselves, while directly preventing points by the Saints AND forcing a turnover.
So, while the defense is being celebrated weekly and the offense still gets its credit, we should all remember that Week 10 in 2021 was won by the special teams unit.
As we do each week, let’s step into the film room and take a look at how the Titans did it.