Titans keep playoff hopes alive by knocking off Denver

Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews fights Broncos defender Aqib Talib for the ball.

Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews fights Broncos defender Aqib Talib for the ball.

After three scoreless quarters, 18 yards rushing and 17 straight failed third down conversions, the Denver Broncos (8-5) took over at their own two-yard line with just under three minutes remaining and a chance to win. Siemian then, on third down, connected with Demaryius Thomas for a first down. With the Bronco faithful standing and hoping, Siemian, driving the Broncos, completed a 12-yard pass to tight end A.J. Derby, who fumbled the ball, after Titans linebacker Avery Williamson punched it out. Safety Daimion Stafford recovered the fumble with 53 seconds left. Derby pounded the ground in frustration after his costly turnover, as the Tennessee Titans (7-6) held on to beat the Denver Broncos 13-10 this past Sunday afternoon at Nissan Stadium. This was a huge win for Tennessee. With the win, the Titans climbed above .500, keeping a piece of first place in the AFC South along with the Houston Texans.

The Titans came in with the NFL’s third-best rushing offense and the AFC’s top runner in DeMarco Murray. They ran right over that star studded Denver defense. By halftime, the Titans had 138 yards on the ground, the second-most rushes by any team in the first half this season and most allowed in the first half by Denver since 2014. Murray ran for 92 yards and a touchdown in this contest. Marcus Mariota also ran the rock eight times for 38 yards. Mariota only threw the ball for 88 yards. That was not a misprint. This was his worst game passing this season. He did, however, become the first Titans quarterback with at least 3,000 passing yards in a season since Matt Hasselbeck did it back in 2011.

Trailing 13-0 with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter, Denver’s rookie punter, Riley Dixon, took the snap and completed a 16-yard pass to Cody Latimer. It was a brilliant fake by coach Gary Kubiak. The Broncos stalled on fourth down, however, but the offense finally awoke from a nauseating hibernation. Tennessee had to hold on as Trevor Siemian tried to rally Denver. After Kalif Raymond’s 21-yard punt return and a Titans’ 15-yard roughing penalty, the Broncos hit stride. Siemian guided a five-play, 26-yard drive, completing a three-yard touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders. The Broncos followed with an 11-play, 39-yard drive with Brandon McManus shaving the deficit to 13-10 with a tad over four minutes remaining on his 34-yard field goal, but the comeback would not come to past. Thomas and Sanders combined for 21 catches for 226 yards. Siemian finished 35 of 51 for 334 yards and one touchdown.

Denver cornerback Aqib Talib was flagged for unnecessary roughness after tangling with Titans wide receiver Harry Douglas in the second quarter. Talib was angry with Douglas for his low block on Denver cornerback Chris Harris, Jr., on the previous play before the altercation, in which Harris had to leave the game.

The Titans take on the Kansas City Chiefs this up coming Sunday at noon in Missouri. Every game from here till the end of the season is big for Tennessee. Stay tuned.