NFL Wire News

3 things we learned about the Titans

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Off to a dispiriting 1-3 start that included consecutive one-sided losses, the Miami Dolphins opted for a coaching change.

For at least one Sunday, a different voice appears to have worked, albeit against an opponent which tends to bring out the best in everyone.

Interim coach Dan Campbell’s first game was a rip-roaring success, Miami dominating both sides of the scrimmage line in a 38-10 walloping of the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.

With running back Lamar Miller rushing for 113 yards — 18 fewer than he managed in the first four games total — and a touchdown, the Dolphins outgained Tennessee 180-63 on the ground. That was a stunning reversal for a team which entered the game 31st in rushing and 32nd in rushing defense.

“Those guys bought in,” Campbell said. “They believed in what we were telling them. They know now that we have to go after each other in practice.”

Miami’s more aggressive approach was manifested immediately as Miller peeled off runs of 4 and 14 yards on the game’s first two plays, kick-starting an 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 22-yard scoring run off a reverse from wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

It carried over to defense, where the Dolphins stopped the run for the first time this season and forced the Titans (1-4) into passing situations, then turned up the heat on rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.

In his shakiest performance, Mariota completed 21 of 33 passes for 219 yards and a 3-yard touchdown pass to running back Dexter McCluster on the third quarter’s last play. But Mariota also lost two fumbles and tossed two interceptions, one resulting in a 30-yard return for a touchdown by safety Reshad Jones with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

Most importantly, Mariota took a beating, absorbing five sacks and playing for most of the game with an injured knee as the result of a late hit by defensive end Olivier Vernon late in the second quarter.

What we learned about the Titans:

1. The offensive line took a big step backward Sunday. Tennessee rushed for only 63 yards against a team that entered the day allowing 160.5 yards per game. QB Marcus Mariota took a fearful pounding, absorbing five sacks and getting hit on several other passes. It was easily the offensive line’s worst showing of the season. 2. The defensive line was pushed around from start to finish by an opponent that started the day with the 31st-ranked rushing offense in the NFL. Miami rushed for 180 yards on just 32 carries, more than 100 yards over its per-game average.

3. Fans aren’t happy with the direction this team took in this one. The team was booed off the field at halftime and the crowd of 62,342 left in droves when the Dolphins upped their lead to 24-3 in the third quarter. This could be an interesting week for this franchise, which has to play 5-1 Atlanta next Sunday to close out a four-game homestand that has seen it lose the first three games.

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Etc.:

–C Brian Schwenke (dislocated ankle) left the game in the second quarter and could miss the rest of the season. Schwenke was carted off the field after being hit from behind by a Miami defender during a 9-yard run by RB Bishop Sankey.

–QB Marcus Mariota (knee) was injured on a low, late hit by Miami DE Olivier Vernon early in the second quarter but stayed in the game until coach Ken Whisenhunt replaced him with less than two minutes left. Mariota was bothered by the injury, taking five sacks due to a lack of mobility. He also committed four turnovers.

–FS Michael Griffin moved past John Grimsley for sixth place on the franchise’s all-time tackles list with his 837th career stop in the second quarter. Griffin finished with four tackles and an interception.


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