Lions vs. Titans: Tennessee Returns to the Winning Side in Overtime Thriller

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistSeptember 23, 2012

Locker stood tall and delivered 378 yards passing.
Locker stood tall and delivered 378 yards passing.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Everyone knows winning is never easy.

The Tennessee Titans didn't know it was going to be this hard.

In a wild 44-41 contest ultimately decided in overtime, the Titans picked up their first victory of the season over the Detroit Lions.

Tennessee piled up 21 points on returns to help build a 14-point lead with less than 30 seconds to play in the game, only to see the Lions tie it up on a pair of desperation touchdowns sandwiched around an onside kick recovery.

The Titans scored on a 65-yard punt return from Tommy Campbell off a lateral. They scored on a 105-yard kickoff return from Darius Reynaud. They scored on an Alterraun Verner 72-yard fumble recovery.

Oh, there was a 61-yard Jared Cook to Jake Locker hookup and a 71-yard Nate Washington touchdown catch too.

Five touchdowns that totaled 374 yards coupled with three Rod Bironas field goals to added up to the highest total for the Titans since a 47-7 stomping of the Rams in December of 2009.

The Titans rode big plays and a 378-yard outburst from Jake Locker to challenge the high-scoring Lions. After the Verner return with 1:16 to play, it looked like the Titans were going to cruise to victory.

They didn't count on a furious Lions rally capped by a 46-yard heave that forced overtime.

In OT, Locker hit four passes for 42 yards, and aided by two huge penalties against Detroit, the Titans managed to take the lead on a chip-shot by Bironas who had missed two earlier kicks.

The Lions once again rallied, driving all the way down to the Titans' seven before a botched sneak attempt on fourth down officially ended the game.

Despite another awful day by Chris Johnson (14 carries for 24 yards), the Titans won thanks to explosive plays and the ability of Locker who added 35 yards on the ground himself.

The win gives the Titans a chance to weather their early-season nightmare schedule. With one win under their belt, Tennessee now has a chance to finish its first six games with a pair of wins.

With Locker coming of age before the eyes of the home faithful, the outlook for Tennessee improves dramatically.