|Video replay provides enough proof of Titans’ weird, wild win over Lions |
|Posted: Monday, September 24, 2012 7:00 pm |
| By KEVIN WEAKS |
NASHVILLE — There was something special about Tennessee’s first win of the season. Even if it did take longer than expected … and with the final play reviewed by replacement officials to confirm it.
The referee crew determined — and the replay booth confirmed — that Detroit quarterback Shaun Hill was stopped for a one-yard loss on a 4th-and-inches at the Titans’ 8-yard line in overtime to preserve a wild-is-not-the-word 44-41 win at LP Feild on Sunday afternoon.
“I can honestly say, 30 years being around the NFL, I never saw anything close to what we experienced in this game,” Titans’ head coach Mike Munchak said. “For us, we won a football game that we needed to win. We made a lot of big plays in this game, which was fun to watch. We know we’ve got things to fix, but we just got to enjoy this win right now.”
So, after three hours and 51 minutes, one extra quarter and 85 total points, a game that saw both teams combine for 1,020 yards ended when Detroit could not gain one more foot.
Scoring twice on special teams, then getting a long touchdown reception on offense and a longer interception return on defense, the Titans seemed to have the game locked up in regulation
Titans’ wide receiver Nate Washington went up over Detroit cornerback Jacob Lacey for a 71-yard touchdown pass from Jake Locker to give Tennessee a 34-27 lead at 3:11 of the fourth quarter.
When Tennessee cornerback Alterraun Verner picked up a fumble by Lions’ tight end Brandon Pettigrew and sprinted 72 yards for a score wth 1:16 remaining in the game, Tennessee and Detroit fans alike began heading for the exits.
Not so fast.
A quarter that saw 46 total points scored was still 14 points from being finished.
First, the Lions got a second life on a seven-play, 80-yard drive when a penalty wiped off an Verner interception in the end zone, and Hill — in for injured Matthew Stafford (hamstring) — threw to Calvin Johnson for a three-yard TD with 18 seconds remaining. Then, Amari Spievey recovered an onside kick that led to Hill’s improable 46-yard “Hail Mary” pass to Titus Young as time expired. Jason Hanson’s point-after sent the game into overtime tied at 41-all
“We scored 21 points in the last five minutes of the game,” Munchak said. “We thought, obviously, that we had it put away.”
That score ended a crazy quarter that started with Tennessee ahead 20-16 and included six touchdowns, a field goal, 19 combined first downs (18 for the Lions) and 332 total yards (a 255-77 Detroit advantage).
Under the new overtime rules, where a field goal in overtime gives the other team a chance to score, Tennessee took the opening kick and drove for a 26-yard Rob Bironas field goal, helping him overcome two misses in regulation.
Detroit then drove to the Titans’ seven, facing a fourth down and needing only to get the ball on the other end of the hashmark. A miscommunication between Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz and Hill resulted in the play that ended the game.
Not only did the Titan defense stop Hill, it actually pushed him back a yard to end the game with 6:36 left in OT. The on-field celebration had to be suspended, however, as head referee Gerald Wright announced — twice — that the final play was under review. The booth confirmed what the on-field crew saw, finally ending the marathon and Tennessee’s early-season losing streak.
“We were going to try to draw them offsides,” Schwartz said. “The crowd was loud, and we said if they didn’t jump, we were going to take a timeout, and the ball ended up getting snapped. We need to obviously make sure all 11 guys get the calls right there.”
The thrilling finish overshadowed three quarters that were exciying enough on their own.
Using the same “Home Run Throwback” play that won the AFC Wild Card playoff game Jan. 8, 2000, on a punt return for a TD, the Titans overcame an early 6-0 deficit to take a 20-9 halftime lead.
Darius Reynaud took a Ben Graham punt to the left and threw back across the field to Tommie Campbell, who then had nothing but LP Field grass in front of him for a 65-yard score that put the Titans up 10-6 with 33 seconds to play in the first quarter.
“Never threw it high school, never threw it in college, never threw it in my career in the league,” Reynaud said. “We practiced on it real good, and all I had to do was just give him a good ball.”
Reynaud came up with an even bigger play after Detroit rallied to take a 27-20 lead with 6:53 to play in the game on Stafford’s three-yard pass and conversion to pass to Nate Burleson as he grabbed the ensuing kick five yards deep in the end zone and found a lane down his team’s sideline for a 105-yard return.
The run took 12 seconds, and Bironas’ kick tied the game at 27-all to set up an even wilder finish.
Published in The Messenger 9.24.12