The last time this franchise known as the Tennessee Titans beat the San Diego Chargers they were playing in Houston as the Oilers. Current Head Coach Mike Munchak was an active player on the team—all before Bill Clinton got elected to his first term as president.
Jake Locker’s arm and legs helped Tennessee open its offense for several big plays Sunday in the Titans’ home opener at LP Field, and Titans rookie Justin Hunter recorded his first catch in the NFL. The 34-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Justin Hunter with 15 seconds remaining lifted the Titans over the Chargers 20-17.
San Diego tried a desperation play that included a short pass from Philip Rivers to Danny Woodhead, followed by seven laterals and an illegal kicking of the ball by Rivers before Alterraun Verner ended the frenzy by falling on the ball for a fumble recovery. The deep pass capped a 10-play, 94-yard drive that lasted 1:50 minutes and caused an eruption from the Titans’ sideline and stands in celebration of Hunter’s first reception in the NFL. It marked the first time that Tennessee led San Diego the entire game.
“It was a must-win game for us and we had to go out there and prove ourselves,” Hunter said. “I think it’s a big confidence builder for the offense, defense and whole organization.” Hunter said the phrase “attack the ball” was his first thought as he tracked the ball because receivers Coach Shawn Jefferson has instilled it in him since Hunter joined the Titans.
Locker finished 23-of-37 passing for 299 yards with the TD. He added 68 rushing yards on five carries with a rushing score for the second-highest total yardage of his career. The QB said he thought the receiver did a great job of learning from that experience to make the play at the end of the game
“I think there was a calm feeling,” Locker said of the team’s mindset going into the final drive. “I don’t think there was panic. We had the penalty that put us back on the six-yard line. I think there was just the feeling that we had enough time to go down and make something happen, and that’s what we believed in.”
“When you talk about composure, it’s not always about slinging the ball down the field,” center Rob Turner said, citing the way Locker made plays with his legs that included a 39-yard scramble. “Sometimes, if they cover guys up, that’s what you need to do. You’ll get a coordinator to change up defensive calls if a quarterback is burning you. That’s composure. He didn’t throw an interception; he didn’t make a bad read. That’s composure. It wasn’t just the last drive. It was the entire game. He was under control. He made good decisions, and as a team, you love to follow a guy like that.”
Next up, the Titans host the New York Jets at 3:05 pm on Sunday, Sept. 29. Watch live on CBS.