Titans use late INT to turn away Broncos
Nashville, TN – Will Witherspoon intercepted a Kyle Orton 14 win for the Tennessee Titans over the Denver Broncos.
The Titans (2-1) took the lead with 4:28 to go as they went 95 yards on seven plays. Craig Steven had a 58-yard catch and run while Nate Washington caught a 13-yard pass to get the Titans inside the five. Daniel Graham hauled in a four-yard pass for the go-ahead score.
"These are games that are pivotal to win. It says a lot about the character of your team," Titans linebacker Barrett Ruud said.
Chris Johnson was held in check once again in the running game. He had just 21 yards on 13 carries, but he did gain 54 yards on four receptions for Tennessee.
Matt Hasselbeck completed 27-of-36 passes for 311 yards and two scores, while Washington led all receivers with 92 yards on eight catches. He scored once.
The momentum of the contest changed when Denver (1-2) failed to convert a fourth-and-goal from the one when the Broncos held a 14-10 advantage early on in the fourth quarter.
"We've got to be able to get that, it was six inches," Broncos head coach John Fox said.
"We wanted to go for it, and the coach (Fox) wanted to go for it," Orton said after the Broncos initially lined up for a field goal.
Orton threw for 173 yards with two touchdowns and two crucial interceptions on 24-of-39 passing.
The Tennessee defense bottled up Willis McGahee all game long as he managed just 52 yards on 22 rushes. Eric Decker led all Bronco receivers with 48 yards on seven receptions.
A 30-yard punt return to midfield by Quan Cosby on a 62-yard punt by Brett Kern set up Denver's first scoring drive in the first quarter. Orton found Matthew Willis in the right flat for a five-yard touchdown. Orton converted a big 3rd-and-7 on an 11-yard quick slant to Brandon Lloyd.
The Titans tied the score early in the second quarter on a 14-yard touchdown catch by Washington. Earlier on in the drive, Johnson lined up as a wide receiver against Denver linebacker Jason Hunter. Johnson streaked down the left sideline and hauled in a 34-yard pass as he was able to get both feet down.
On Denver's next possession, Orton made a nice touch throw for a 32-yard gain to tight end Daniel Fells, but two plays later, he threw an interception to Jason McCourty as he overthrew Decker.
After the interception, the Titans drove inside Denver territory, but Kenny Britt fumbled inside the red zone as Robert Ayers dove on the loose ball at the 19. Britt left the game with a right knee injury on the play.
"We will know tomorrow," Titans head coach Mike Munchak said of Britt's injury. "Obviously, it didn���t look good when he got hurt. We will have to wait until tomorrow to see the extent of that."
NFL Network is reporting that the Titans fear that Britt tore his MCL and possibly his ACL.
Rob Bironas booted a 46-yard field goal with 1:11 to go in the second quarter to put Tennessee ahead 10-7. The Titans were ready to punt the ball on a 4th- and-9 at their own 44, but after a low snap, Kern improvised and picked up a first down as he scampered for 21 yards down the right sideline.
The Broncos took just over eight minutes off the clock on a 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on their first drive of the second half. Denver matriculated down the field with short passes from Orton, and runs by McGahee and Lance Ball. Decker and Fells each had 10-yard receptions, the longest gains on the drive before McGahee hauled in a five-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-10.
Miller stripped Hasselbeck on Tennessee's first play on their ensuing drive, as Denver recovered the ball inside the red zone at the 13. The Titans defense made a nice stand as the Broncos failed to convert on a 4th-and-goal from the one.
The Titans snapped a four-game losing skid against the Broncos with the win, and increased their all-time series lead to 21-14-1...Denver recorded just one 15-yard facemask penalty in the game, while Tennessee was penalized 11 times for 80 yards...Denver led in first downs, 19-17, but the Titans gained over 100 more total yards, 333-231. Denver missed out on winning its 400th game in franchise history.