Published November 20, 2014
Jake Locker threw a 45-yard touchdown pass in his NFL debut, and the Tennessee Titans beat the Minnesota Vikings 14-3 Saturday night to make new coach Mike Munchak a winner in his preseason opener.
Matt Hasselbeck started for Tennessee, and the veteran signed to a three-year contract to mentor Locker and make the Titans competitive this season looked sharp in his lone series. He completed 5 of 6 passes for 55 yards in an opening drive marred by a botched handoff leading to a 30-yard loss.
Locker, the eighth pick overall from Washington, had his moment, too. He dropped the ball off the snap before picking it up, rolling to his right and throwing a perfect pass to Yamon Figurs for a TD. Locker played one series into the third quarter, and he was 7 of 10 for 89 yards with a passer rating of 130.8.
The Titans are billing this as the start of a new legacy under Munchak, the Hall of Fame offensive lineman and former assistant coach promoted in February after Tennessee parted with Jeff Fisher. A video was played during a timeout on the opening series to help make fans more familiar with Munchak.
And the Titans took a step toward the disciplined approach Munchak wants.
They looked much more crisp despite those bobbled snaps with the offense outgaining the Vikings 111-33 in the first quarter. The defense forced two turnovers in the second quarter and had four sacks overall.
This marked Donovan McNabb's first start for Minnesota, and he probably should have quit after his first series when he completed four of his first five passes before having the sixth knocked down by rookie linebacker Akeem Ayers. McNabb came back for a second series before leaving the game 6 of 11 for 40 yards.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier gave Adrian Peterson only one carry for 3 yards before pulling his star running back, and he scratched a pair of starters in cornerback Cedric Griffin and tight end Visante Shiancoe.
The Vikings also have a highly drafted rookie quarterback in Christian Ponder. Frazier put Joe Webb into the game once McNabb left, and Webb started the third quarter and drove the Vikings to a 37-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell. Webb had five carries for 33 yards, and was 4 of 8 on passes for 45 yards and an interception.
Ponder finally got on the field with 7:55 left, and the 12th pick overall was sacked three times — the last by former Florida State teammate Myron Rolle.
Hasselbeck completed his first four passes for 47 yards and had Tennessee down to the Minnesota 16 before the bobbled snap to Javon Ringer bounced away. Ringer started in place of holdout Chris Johnson. The play turned into a 30-yard loss before Ringer covered the ball.
The Titans also bogged down at the Vikings 21 on Locker's opening drive before Rob Bironas missed a 38-yard field goal wide left.
Rookie Jurrell Casey ripped the ball away from Vikings running back Lorenzo Booker and recovered it in the second quarter to set up Locker's TD pass a play after the turnover. Safety Jordan Babineaux, another free agent signee away from Seattle, intercepted Webb's pass on the Vikings' next offensive play.
Jamie Harper, a fourth-round pick out of Clemson, capped a four-play drive with a 2-yard TD run to put Tennessee up 14-0 at halftime.