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Ryan Tannehill, Titans Beat Matthew Stafford, Rams in 1st Game Without Derrick Henry

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 8, 2021

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Life without Derrick Henry may not be as difficult for the Tennessee Titans as some envisioned. 

The Titans improved to 7-2 with a 28-16 victory over the Los Angeles Rams (7-2) on Sunday night at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

This was Tennessee's first game since Henry, who was building an MVP resume, underwent foot surgery. Adrian Peterson, who was signed to help replace the bruising running back, scored on a three-yard touchdown run with three minutes left in the game to rule out any late comeback by the Rams.

Tennessee Titans @Titans

ALL DAY. ALL NIGHT. <a href="https://twitter.com/AdrianPeterson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AdrianPeterson</a> <br><br>📺: Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TENvsLAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TENvsLAR</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/SNFonNBC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SNFonNBC</a> <a href="https://t.co/xZhBtDX9iD">pic.twitter.com/xZhBtDX9iD</a>


Notable Performers

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans: 19-of-27, 143 yards, one touchdown, one interception

A.J. Brown, WR, Titans: five receptions, 42 yards

Julio Jones, WR, Titans: four receptions, 35 yards

Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams: 31-of-48, 294 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions

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Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Rams: 11 carries, 55 yards; three receptions, three yards

Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams: 11 receptions, 95 yards


Titans Offense Less Than Convincing

The Titans came away with their fifth straight win, which is more important than anything else as they adjust to a Henry-less existence for the time being.

Dianna Russini @diannaESPN

The Titans did this tonight against the Rams WITHOUT their best player, the engine of their offense Derrick Henry. <br><br>This is a big deal. <br><br>On top of all the other injuries, I don’t have room here to type up..

Gaining 194 total yards and averaging 3.5 yards per play probably won't lead to many more victories the rest of the way, though.

The running game was almost nonexistent as none of Peterson, D'Onta Foreman or Jeremy McNichols stood out. In the case of Peterson, perhaps his influence will grow as he spends more time in Tennessee.

More surprisingly, the passing game didn't exactly shoulder a heavier load to account for Henry's absence.

Brett Kollmann @BrettKollmann

All things considered the Rams defense has dominated tonight. Tannehill has like 4.8 YPA and the Titans leading rusher has under 30 yards and we’re well into the fourth quarter.<br><br>And that’s without Von Miller. Can’t wait to see what they look like with him on the field.

Ryan Tannehill's most notable contribution was a one-yard touchdown run on a bootleg.

NFL @NFL

RYAN TANNEHILL DOES IT HIMSELF.<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TENvsLAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TENvsLAR</a> on NBC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/ZIukbFRRGH">https://t.co/ZIukbFRRGH</a> <a href="https://t.co/g8rMaa9uUH">pic.twitter.com/g8rMaa9uUH</a>

Head coach Mike Vrabel and his coaching staff might need to go back to the drawing board. As strong as Tennessee's defense was, capitalizing on turnovers and 12 penalties by the opponent for 115 yards isn't a recipe a team can follow in every game.

Although winning ugly is likely the path forward, you'd like to see more of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones in the coming weeks, especially with the schedule leveling off a bit.


Stafford Plays to Type

You can remove Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions, but you can't fully remove the Detroit Lions from Matthew Stafford.

Through eight games, the 2014 Pro Bowler was largely meeting expectations and thriving under head coach Sean McVay. As Sunday demonstrated, he still remains capable of some inexplicably bad decisions.

Early into the second quarter, Stafford looked to avoid a safety and gifted Titans linebacker David Long Jr. with an interception.

NFL @NFL

The INT that set up the <a href="https://twitter.com/Titans?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@titans</a> touchdown!<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TENvsLAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TENvsLAR</a> on NBC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/ZIukbFRRGH">https://t.co/ZIukbFRRGH</a> <a href="https://t.co/0k8TYpNBmz">pic.twitter.com/0k8TYpNBmz</a>

On Los Angeles' next drive, he failed to see Kevin Byard and the Titans safety returned a pick 24 yards to the house.

NFL @NFL

PICK-6!!! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Titans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Titans</a> <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TENvsLAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TENvsLAR</a> on NBC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/ZIukbFRRGH">https://t.co/ZIukbFRRGH</a> <a href="https://t.co/OvzgZBtmu5">pic.twitter.com/OvzgZBtmu5</a>

Based on how Jared Goff is performing in the Motor City, the Rams are still coming out the winners from their big offseason trade with the Lions. But Stafford's disastrous first half was the kind of thing that will raise questions about whether he'll revert to a gunslinger at the worst possible time for L.A.

Steve Palazzolo @PFF_Steve

For Stafford, the negative plays have still been there this season<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TENvsLAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TENvsLAR</a> <a href="https://t.co/Bgyh4yCN6n">https://t.co/Bgyh4yCN6n</a>

Computer Cowboy @benbbaldwin

So this is what Stafford looks like without dominant pass protection. Hmm

With the Titans offense sputtering in the second half, it seemed like the Rams might be able to claw their way back. The hole Los Angeles dug itself into in the second quarter proved too deep to overcome.


What's Next?

The Titans host the New Orleans Saints at 1 p.m. ET on Nov. 14. The Rams shift their focus toward an NFC West clash with the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 15's Monday Night Football.

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