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Midway through the third quarter of the Tennessee Titans’ win at Green Bay on Thursday, Derrick Henry – all 6-foot-3, 247 pounds of him – took a hand-off at the Packers’ three-yard line and plowed toward the end zone.

Instead of hammering into the line, however, Henry pulled up at the last instant, lobbing a touchdown pass to wide open tight end Austin Hooper.

Different? Definitely.

It was that kind of night for the Titans, who veered somewhat from the winning formula that was so successful for them over the better part of the last two months: a highly productive run game, smothering run defense and big plays in pass defense.

In beating the Packers 27-17, the Titans showed an explosive passing attack, some eye-opening play-calling and an ability to shut down an opposing offense – even while finishing with one sack and zero interceptions.

The Titans scored their most points this season. They scored their first fourth-quarter touchdown this season. They won by 10 points for the first time this season.

It was all just a little different than what we’d seen previously.

“Each and every week, we have to figure out ways to move the football offensively,” coach Mike Vrabel told media afterward. “I felt like guys executed. We protected the quarterback for the most part. Just a lot of really good things.”

Here are five takeaways from the Titans’ win:

• The Titans’ Offense was … Explosive? – Here are some crazy numbers: In the first nine games of the season, the Titans totaled just 10 plays of 30-plus yards. In only four quarters of work against the Packers, the Titans produced five plays of 30-plus yards – all on a night when the team’s longest run was nine yards.

Maybe we should have known something had changed on the third play of the game when quarterback Ryan Tannehill connected with Treylon Burks for a 43-yard completion. That was the key play on the Titans’ game-opening, 83-yard touchdown drive.

The next three big passing plays led to scores as well. Two occurred on one drive – a deep shot to rookie tight end Chig Okonkwo that gained 31 yards, and a 42-yard screen pass to Henry. Two plays later, Henry hit Austin Hooper with the jump pass and the Titans had what would turn out to be an insurmountable 20-9 lead.

Still, the big plays kept coming through the air.

Tannehill connected with Woods for a 32-yard gain on the next drive, setting up a touchdown that put the Titans up 27-17.

And then the coup de gras, coming on the Titans’ final possession. Run the clock out? Not these new-look Titans. Tannehill instead clinched matters by going up top to Burks, hitting him for a 51-yard completion.

Vrabel credited the play of the offensive line, which was without starting center Ben Jones. The Titans did surrender three sacks, but also allowed Tannehill to make longer reads at times as well.

“Protection, the ability to protect and scheme and progress through,” Vrabel said. “Guys made some plays. Probably when you can protect the quarterback, and he can get some schemes. … I thought there was some good design and the execution was good. That’s what happens. When you’re able to get X-plays, there’s probably a little bit of both – there’s a good design and great execution.”

• Tannehill was Razor-Sharp – Tannehill may still have been slightly bothered by the sprained ankle he suffered earlier in the year, but he showed Thursday that his arm is just fine.

He finished 22-27 for 333 yards, two touchdowns and a 127.3 quarterback rating. The only blemish on his night was a fourth-quarter interception. Tannehill failed to see defender Rasul Douglas on a pass intended for Burks. It was his first interception in the last five games.

But overall, the positives far outweighed the negatives for Tannehill, who had his most productive game since Week 2 of the 2021 season when he threw for 347 yards in a win at Seattle.

Maybe what was most impressive about Tannehill’s night was the multiple tight-window passes he completed.

There were the two bombs to Burks, but the 16-yard touchdown pass he threw to Hooper rated highly as well. Tannehill zipped it straight down the seam, and Hooper clutched it tight as he hit the turf, putting the Titans ahead 27-17.

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“We saw a lot of contested catches, some underneath things where the coverage was good,” Tannehill said. “(I was) able to give them a chance with the ball and some strong-hands catches, and (they) made the play for me. You see those things happen and it gives the quarterbacks a lot of confidence to cut it loose in those guys’ directions.”

Next Gen Stats gave Tannehill some serious props afterward, noting he had completed more than 20 percent of passes over expectation, the highest completion percentage over expectation in a game over the last three seasons by any NFL quarterback (minimum 25 attempts). 

Tannehill’s 97 Next Gen Stats passing score was the highest by any quarterback this season.

“We took advantage of some underneath things they were giving us, and then when we had opportunities down the field, we took advantage of those as well,” Tannehill said. “Proud of our guys.”

• Burks Broke Loose – Seemingly nothing has gone smoothly this year for Burks, who was chosen with the 18th overall pick of the NFL Draft and immediately expected by many to replace A.J. Brown, who’d been traded to Philadelphia just moments earlier.

Asthma and poor conditioning knocked him out of rookie camp almost immediately, and things hadn’t improved by mini-camp, which he sat out for the same reasons. Burks got off to a so-so start with 10 catches for 129 yards in his first four games. But just as he seemed to be settling in, Burks suffered a turf-toe injury, one that landed him on injured reserve and forced him to miss the next four games.

All those frustrations were swept aside for at least one night against the Packers, as Burks had easily the best day of his young NFL career – making seven catches (on eight targets) for 111 yards.

It began with an eye-opener, as the Titans went for broke on their first third-down attempt. They converted easily when Burks beat Packers defensive back Keisean Nixon deep, thew up a hand to signal Tannehill and then hauled in the reception. He got up and pumped his fist twice.

“That first third down really got us going,” Tannehill said. “He did a good job of beating his man, had an opportunity down the field. He’s been doing some good things for us all year. Hopefully we can build on this, get some momentum going.”

Having a player like Burks, who is big, strong and fast enough to be able to get open downfield, is a key to balancing the run-heavy Titans offense – and giving defenses a different look.

“Anytime you can make some plays, it gives you a lot of confidence as a player,” Tannehill said of Burks. “I felt like that was coming early on in the year, before Indy when he went out. Now he’s getting back into it. Definitely happy [with] the way he played the game. Made some big plays for us. He’s obviously a talented player and I want to keep him going.”

• Short Rest not a Problem – The Titans faced a double whammy this week – not only playing on four days' rest but losing even more time because they had to travel to Green Bay.

But that kind of schedule hasn’t been an impediment for the Titans, who improved to 10-2 on short rest games since Vrabel took over as head coach in 2018. It was the second big win for the Titans on less than a week’s rest this season. Earlier this season, Tennessee rebounded from getting battered in Buffalo on a Monday night and beat Las Vegas the following Sunday – a victory that turned around the entire season.

“I think our coaches do a fantastic job of being ready to go,” Vrabel said. “I think (the players) respond and they trust the schedule we have for them. I think they probably looked at me like I was nuts when we were running at 4 o’clock on Monday, doing striders and lifting to try to get the soreness out. But I think after the way they feel on a short week, I think they trust off.”

Said Henry: “It felt good on a short week. We came in focused and determined, paying attention to the little details in all three phases, focused on getting better.”

• A Win for the Walking Wounded – The Titans were battered enough coming into Thursday’s game, as the team had 15 players on injured reserve – a list that didn’t include recent two returnees from the list, Burks and cornerback Elijah Molden.

Then there were the players without long-term injuries who sat out the contest – like center Ben Jones, linebacker Bud Dupree, safety Amani Hooker, Molden and kicker Randy Bullock.

Just for good measure, the Titans suffered new injuries against the Packers. Defensive lineman Denico Autry, in the midst of perhaps his best season, left the game with a knee injury and was carted to the locker room. Cornerback Kristian Fulton, who had been questionable with a hamstring injury, aggravated the injury and left the game early. Teair Tart, who appeared to fake one injury to slow a Packers drive, incurred a more serious one later in the contest as well.

By the end of the game, the likes of defensive backs Tre Avery and Greg Mabin, the latter having just been signed to the practice squad two days earlier, saw plenty of playing time.

Up front, a hobbled Jeffery Simmons (who missed last Sunday’s game with an ankle injury) had just enough strength left in him to clog up the Packers’ fourth-and-one rushing attempt at the Titans’ 44-yard line – with just under three minutes left in the game.

The Titans held the Packers to 271 yards and 15 first downs.

Still, they should greatly benefit from the week-and-a-half they’ll have off before facing Cincinnati at Nissan Stadium on Nov. 27.

“I think we need it,” Vrabel said. “I think there are some guys that have been playing through a lot of stuff. There’s a great demand that gets put on these guys. I know they’re looking forward to the rest. They’ve earned it. They’ve definitely earned it.”