Injuries have played such a big role in this season for the Titans, but tonight, they got one step closer to full strength. Star receiver A.J. Brown was activated before the game, and boy-oh-boy did he ever show out.
Brown powered a huge comeback for the Titans, sparked by some key defensive plays. But early on, this one did not look good.
The first half was a complete disaster for the Titans, and it should have been so much worse. The 49ers cut through the Tennessee defense with ease on the opening drive, as Deebo Samuel pushed the ball down to the one, and then Jeff Wilson scored.
They quickly did it again, but Jimmy Garoppolo bailed the Titans out with an interception in the endzone. Jackrabbit Jenkins, returning after missing a handful of games, stepped in front of the ball and made a big play to keep Tennessee alive.
However, Todd Downing’s offense was dreadful in the opening half, despite getting A.J. Brown back. Huge first down struggles doomed nearly every drive, as the Titans couldn’t get anything going.
The Tennessee defense kept the Titans in the game, holding San Francisco to just a field goal in the second quarter.
Denico Autry came up with a huge sack to force a three and out and give the Titans a chance to do something before the break. Quickly after, D’Onta Foreman hit a big run and got all the way down inside of the five, but the massive play was called back by a Geoff Swaim hold.
The drive ended up in a punt, and the Titans went to halftime down 10-0, which was a win, all things considered. Downing’s unit put up just 55 yards of offense in the first half. The play-calling was conservative, to say the least — that had to change going forward.
Suddenly, A.J. Brown started makings some plays to move the sticks. A couple of really big third down conversions finally put the Titans in position to score, which they did with a Randy Bullock field goal to make it a 10-3 game.
And then Garoppolo delivered a gift on Christmas Eve Eve. An overthrow was picked off by Amani Hooker, and the Titans were in business once again. Just a few plays later, D’Onta Foreman punched in Tennessee’s first touchdown of the night to tie the game at ten.
The Titans came up with another huge defensive stop on the next drive, holding firm at midfield on a fourth down attempt to get the ball back. A massive catch was made by A.J. Brown on a free play, and just like that, the Titans were looking to take the lead.
The A.J. Brown show continued as he hauled in an 18 yard strike to make it a 17-10 game. The halftime adjustments were obvious — throw the ball to No. 11 and let’s see what happens.
Suddenly it was the 49ers who couldn’t move the ball, and time was beginning to run thin. A Brett Kern punt forced them all the way back to their own five to start what figured to be one of their final drives of the game with just under six minutes to play.
Just when you started to count the 49ers out, Deebo Samuel made another huge play. A huge 56 yard catch and run brought San Francisco down inside of the five, and Garoppolo found Brandon Aiyuk for the score and the tie.
Ryan Tannehill was left with a two-minute drill to get in position for the game winning field goal attempt. A quick first down was followed by a defensive pass interference call, which pushed the Titans out to their own 45. And then Tannehill took matters into his own hands. scrambling all the way to the San Francisco 30.
The Titans sat on the ball from there, setting up Bullock for the chance to win
…. And his kick was … good.
Final score: Titans 20, 49ers 17. A.J. Brown ended his night with 11 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown, clearly earning MVP honors for the night. Tennessee is now 10-5, still in the driver’s seat of the AFC South. The Titans would clinch the AFC South with a Colts loss on Saturday.
Tennessee will now have ten days off before hosting the Dolphins on January 2nd.