Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings: Live Scores, Highlights and Analysis
In the fourth preseason game, when you go from the first stringers to the second to the third, you can expect the game to change a lot. That was certainly the case here.
While the first and second stringers were on the field, the offenses dominated. Both teams ran the ball effectively, even without superstar running backs Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. Both teams also passed efficiently when they needed to.
Then, in the second half, everything changed. Four offensive series ended in turnovers before the Titans finally put together a drive.
After that, the game became pretty close. Both teams still ran the ball well, but the defenses managed to make plays as well. In the end, the Vikings came out on top by one point.
But again, it's just the preseason, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. The fact that the Titans' starters looked competitive against a squad that beat them 30-7 in 2012 is definitely a good sign.
Titans 23, Vikings 24
And that does it. A one point game ends up resolved in the favor of the Vikings.
Preseason wins don't matter, and are rarely even indicative of anything, but the Titans have still seen plenty of things to worry about when the regular season starts.
Between uncertainty at the right corner position, more difficulty at safety, and a poor run defense, they'll have plenty to keep working on.
On the other hand, the offensive line looks fantastic, the run game looks great, and Locker looks to have stepped up his game.
Like every team, it's a mixed bag. It's up to the coaches to make the best of the good and do their best to rein in the bad.
The Titans' redzone defense comes through and stops the run. The Vikings have to settle for a field goal, but it's enough to take a one point lead.
Another big run as Banyard tears through the Titans defense. The more often this happens, the more I start to worry that it's a systemic problem.
A defense that's weak against the run won't fare well against Arian Foster and Maurice Jones-Drew, so hopefully it's just a problem with the backup players and not one with the defensive scheme.
Both Rusty Smith and McLeod Bethel-Thompson have looked sharp this game. If either of them are cut, don't be surprised to see a team like Green Bay, who have no legitimate No. 2 quarterback, snatch them up as an insurance policy.
It's just the preseason, but Smith has used the opportunity to showcase his cannon arm, and Bethel-Thompson has shown great decision making all game. They both ought to make someone's roster.
Zach Line comes in at running back for the Vikings, and like the other running backs tonight, he's having his way with the Titans defense on runs to the edge.
Not a big concern, since Derrick Morgan, Akeem Ayers, and Zach Brown are all very good at securing the edge.
Wow. Smith really aired it out on that pass. It's easy to forget that he has a cannon arm.
Darius Reynaud is getting some carries. He'll make the team on his return abilities, if at all. The fact that Khalid Wooten hasn't had a chance to return a kick this game and that Marc Mariani is injured again ought to help him out.
Keyunta Dawson and Zach Clayton with back to back sacks. The defensive line roster spots seem to be all taken, so the third stringers will need to keep making plays like that if they want to make the roster.
It'd be easier on other teams, but the Titans are very deep at defensive tackle.
Rusty Smith puts it just beyond Jack Doyle's reach, and the Titans have to settle for a field goal, making it a one point game.
On the bright side, Rob Bironas looks to have shaken off the rust that showed all too well in the Bengals game. Seems to be no reason to worry about his play in 2013.
Looks like we finally have an offensive series going (after the last four have ended in turnovers).
An interesting development: Byron Stingily is currently playing left tackle, not right. Not sure if that says anything about what the team plans to do with him or if they just wanted to see what he did playing on the left side, but it's an unusual development.
Daimion Stafford may have just made the roster, securing his second turnover of the quarter, and preventing an almost certain touchdown by the Vikings.
That's a second big play given up by Tommie Campbell, despite a penalty. Alterraun Verner looks like a shoo-in to win that second starting spot now.
Make that three turnovers. The offenses were controlling the game for the first half, but it looks like the balance of power has shifted in favor of the defenses now.
Or it could just be a series of flukes. Only time will tell.
Two turnovers in quick succession!
Daimion Stafford, the Titans' last pick in this year's draft, had a great interception there, essentially negating the fumble by Jack Doyle.
Stafford is another guy who may make the roster, but may also be stuck on the practice squad. That interception was thrown right to him, but any attention he can draw to himself will help him.
Jack Doyle with an ugly fumble there. He took a big hit by the Vikings defender, but that's the kind of thing that happens in the NFL.
Vikings recover with fantastic field position and a chance to take a two possession lead.
An amazing run by Marcus Sherels there. I don't think a single Titans player touched him.
Vikings take the lead via a 109 yard touchdown.
Some takeaways from the first half:
-Jackie Battle should not only make the roster, but see more carries than a third string running back usually will.
-Rusty Smith looks good, but there may not be room for him on the roster.
-The Titans run defense may not be as good as expected.
-Alterraun Verner is probably the leading candidate for starting cornerback.
Hard to believe that that was Jack Doyle's first catch of the preseason. He had a bunch of hype in the first week of training camps.
Of course, a touchdown pass isn't a bad way to start an NFL career either. Since Doyle is one of the players on the bubble, that should help him.
Rusty Smith taking the field. I think he's trying out for other teams more than he is for the Titans. With so many other players making a case, a third quarterback is a luxury they can't really afford right now.
That said, that was a fantastic pass to Damian Williams. Then to Preston too. Smith is just gunning it downfield. Maybe I spoke too soon.
That touchdown pass isn't going to help Tommie Campbell's case to be the starting corner opposite Jason McCourty. He had a great outing last week, but I still have to think Alterraun Verner has the edge.
Never good to see a serious injury like that, especially an injury to the head or neck. Hopefully Olsen will be alright.
Colin McCarthy takes the field finally. He should probably worry more about not getting injured than impressing in this game. he has an excellent body of work over two seasons; he just has to stay healthy.
Interesting trick play by the Vikings there. I'm not sure it's the kind of thing they'd attempt in the regular season (fourth and two is a perfect time to rely on Adrian Peterson), but it worked for them here.
Scott Solomon looks a little uncomfortable standing up. I'm not sure how well he'll function in the role that Ayers will fill with the first team defense.
Michael Preston made a great catch there. He's had a fantastic preseason, and if he has another good outing this game he'll make a great case for the Titans keeping six receivers.
In other receiver news, Justin Hunter reels in a touchdown. Good to see him make a play, as he's had an up and down offseason and a quiet preseason.
Parmele made a good run there, but he's really going to have to make a statement to beat out Battle for a roster spot.
The Titans defense stops them the first couple of times, but the Viking managed to finally pound it into the endzone. Extra point is good too.
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