Titans blow past Browns with big plays on offense, defense

Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 4:19pm
Staff reports

The big plays did not disappear when wide receiver Kenny Britt was lost to a season-ending knee injury. In fact, they expanded to the defense.

Matt Hasselbeck threw three first-half touchdown passes, including one of 80 yards to tight end Jared Cook, and safety Jordan Babineaux scored on the fourth-longest interception return in franchise history as the Tennessee Titans routed the Cleveland Browns 31-13 Sunday at Cleveland.

The Titans took control of the contest with a run of 24 straight points that started with Cook’s touchdown catch 50 seconds into the second quarter and ended with Babineaux’s interception return with 2:49 to play in the third. The lead was large enough that rookie quarterback Jake Locker made his NFL debut when he replaced Hasselbeck with fewer than four minutes remaining.

“We were ready for the challenge and we were able to make plays right off of the bat with Cook’s play for a touchdown,” coach Mike Munchak said. “That was a big play there.  The defense did a nice job in the first half especially holding them to field goals and we put some points on the board.”

With the victory Tennessee improved to 3-1 and retained a share of first place in the AFC South in their first game without Britt, its top offensive playmaker through the first two weeks of the season. It also snapped a streak of six straight losses in road games, which dated back to last October.

“I’m not surprised that we’re 3-1,” wide receiver Nate Washington said. “We work very hard. Every single man in the NFL has to put his pants on one leg at a time just like we do. Whether they count us in or count us out we still have to go out and play football. That’s what we did [Sunday]. We did a good job.”

Damian Williams, who started in Britt’s place, caught just one pass for four yards but it was a touchdown reception – the first of his career. Tight end Craig Stevens also had a touchdown catch.

Babineaux replaced Chris Hope on the third Cleveland possession. The interception was his first for the Titans and his first for a touchdown since 2008. However, it also was two yards shy of Cortland Finnegan’s franchise record for the longest in team history. Pete Jaquess (1964) and Darrylll Lewis (1995) had 98-yard returns.

Hope started after having missed the previous two games with a shoulder injury but failed to finish the contest.

“That [interception] was a huge play for us,” Hasselbeck said. “ … That was important. As for offense I think we have done a good job all year. There are things that we do well and things we need to work on, but big plays and explosive gains are something that we have done well.”

Chris Johnson showed a return to form as he ran for 101 yards on 23 carries. That included a season-long run of 25 yards.

“It meant a lot to finally get some open space and get used to being out there,” Johnson said. “Also, getting the running game going on the road instead of the way we started off the first couple weeks with negative plays.

“I’m still working on it right now. I’ve had OK days of work. But I’m just still working and trying to get better.”

5 Comments on this post:

By: TITAN1 on 10/2/11 at 6:31

Great game, Titans! I remember a lot of people saying before the first game that this team would be lucky to win 3 or 4 games this year. They predicted that because they are negative and miserable. Then there are those who pull for an away team every week instead of the home town team and hope the Titans fail. Well, I don't think we will win the rest of the games, but we have a darn good football team! Go Titans!

By: MusicCity615 on 10/3/11 at 7:30

Go Titans!!! Go Predators!!!

By: royt5 on 10/3/11 at 7:37

Cortland Finnegan has been one of my favorite players since he was first drafted at the #7 spot. To tell the truth, I was a little disappointed with his rough boy tactics last year. It was almost like he thought that he had a reputation to uphold. It looks like he has that behind him and , to my way of thinking, he is playing the best ball of his career. He is literally all over the field. I think that him being named a captain is a very good thing. Cortland, keep all your agressiveness, hopefully without all the extra cirrucular activity. Everyone in the NFL knows exactly who you are now. One of the best.

By: jwk6179 on 10/3/11 at 10:11

Before you start ordering your playoff tickets or tickets to the Super Bowl, just remember that the Titans were 5-2 at one point last season before the wheels came off and they finished 6-10. As far as not pulling for the Titans, I NEVER LIKED the Oilers when they were in Houston, so why should they all of a sudden become my FAVORITE NFL team just because they are in Nashville. I hate the Yankees, too, does that mean I should become a Yankees fans if they were to ever move to the team to Nashville?

By: TITAN1 on 10/3/11 at 11:06

Living here all my life, I love pulling for my home town team. I always had to pull for an "Away" team every week when we didn't have our own team. Titans, Preds, Vandy, MTSU, TSU, DW, Sterling, Bobby Sr and Jr. I LOVE IT!