The Titans, without Derrick Henry, went into LA and came away with a dominating 28-16 win. Frankly, it wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.
Tennessee was up 28-9 up until 24-seconds left in the game when the Rams scored a garbage-time touchdown.
Now at 7-2, the Titans look dominant. They’re a physical smashmouth football team that isn’t putting up with much on the field or off of it, and that includes trash talk.
A.J. Brown and Jalen Ramsey got into it multiple times during the game
While the game was handily won by the Titans between the lines, there were quite a few instances of extracurricular activity after the whistle. It was a physical and chippy contest between two heavyweight teams, and the battles between wide receiver A.J. Brown and cornerback Jalen Ramsey personified that.
There was a play midway through the first quarter when Ramsey, arguably the best cornerback in the league, stepped in front of Brown and picked off Titans’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Brown tackled him out of bounds on the return, and Ramsey pushed the wideout down to the ground as he ran back to the field and started his celebration.
Ramsey drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which cost the Rams 15 yards and took a drive that should have started on the 50 back to their own 35. LA managed just a field goal after that interception.
There was another point when Ramsey and Brown were caught getting in each other’s face after the play, and Brown was flagged for a penalty after pushing the demonstrative cornerback.
After the contest, the Tennessee wideout called out Ramsey for what he called “dirty stuff” after the play.
I don’t mind the chirping, but little things after the play, little dirty stuff, I’m not going for it,” he said via Joe Rexrode of The Athletic. “I’m not trying to fight nobody. But I’m not taking no s***, though. He has my number if he wants to see me. That ain’t no threat.”
Ramsey arguably won the matchup on the field
The Titans won in a pretty definitive way, but Ramsey may be able to take some solace in the fact that he did a nice job of shutting Brown down.
The Titans’ star wide receiver caught just 5-of-11 targets for 42 yards. He averaged 8.4 yards per catch and was held without a touchdown. Ramsey got the best of Brown on the interception mentioned above, stepping in front of the wideout’s sideline comeback and making a nice interception.
On the season, Brown has caught 40-of-65 targets for 551 yards and three touchdowns. Ramsey has three interceptions on the season to go along with 46 tackles, eight passes defended, and one forced fumble.
“I definitely left some plays out there,” Brown said after the game. “Some of the plays, I just didn’t make today.”
Don’t forget this: The Tennesee Titans have a legitimate defense
Ramsey had an excellent showing for LA, but the defenders on the other sideline came away with all the spotlight.
The Titans’ defense forced Matthew Stafford into two interceptions on a night that saw him go 31-of-48 passing. He was also sacked five times by the Titans, with Jeffery Simmons coming away with three and Denico Autry with 1.5
Simmons, the Titans 2019 first-round draft pick, now has 5.5 sacks on the season to go along with 30 tackles and 4.5 “stuffs.” He’s quickly becoming one of the better defensive linemen in the game. For comparison’s sake, he has a half sack less than Aaron Donald at this point in the season.
Tennessee forced a usually explosive Rams’ offense into just 4.7 yards per play and 4-of-15 on third downs. The Titans were all over Stafford at just about every big point in the contest, and that included forcing the Rams to go just 1-of-3 in the red zone. Safety Kevin Byard helped put seven points on the board for Tennessee with his pick-six of Stafford.
It was a dominant performance from Tennessee all around, especially when considering the fact that Henry wasn’t on the other side of the ball to control the clock and keep the Rams’ offense off the field. LA did win the time-of-possession battle by about five minutes, but that didn’t matter for the Titans.
Tennessee’s defense, led by Simmons, linebacker David Long Jr., linebacker Harold Landry III, and Byard, doesn’t get a ton of recognition nationally, but it’s a squad that plays physical football and is a great compliment to what the Titans like to do on the offensive side of the ball.
They do give up 23.4 points per game, but the Titans’ defense is Top 10 in both interceptions and sacks so far this season. They’re led by Byard’s five interceptions and an incredible nine sacks from Landry. The only player with more sacks on the season at this point is Myles Garrett.
Tennessee’s defense can straight-up win the team games, and that was proven against LA.
It was the type of win that makes noise in every corner of the league. Currently leading the AFC South by a healthy margin, the Titans are going to be a problem in the playoffs with or without Henry.