A Titans Rarity: Two 40-Point Performances in One Season
NASHVILLE – It is the kind of thing that doesn’t happen too often. Not for the Tennessee Titans, at least.
When it does, though, it typically involves the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With their 42-20 victory Sunday, the Titans topped 40 points for the second time this season That makes 2019 the fourth year during the Titans era (1999-present) that they have scored 40 or more points twice (they also did it in 1998 as the Tennessee Oilers) and the third time that one of those games was against the Jaguars.
“This is a great game to build off of and great momentum for us as an offense against a divisional opponent,” running back Derrick Henry said Sunday. “Important game, so some great positive things we can build off of as an offense to keep this thing going.”
If they can score 40 or more at any point over the remaining five weeks, it will mark the first time since the franchise joined the NFL in 1970 that it done so three times in a single season. You have to go back to 1962, when the Houston Oilers were an American Football League power, to find the last time this team hit that mark three times.
And the fact that they have that many opportunities to get there makes this season a little different. Each of the previous three times it happened (1999, 2009 and 2015), at least one of the 40-point performances came in Week 13 or later.
A look at the seasons in which the Tennessee Titans have scored 40 or more points in a game more than once:
First 40-point game
Second 40-point game
Week 16 – d. Jacksonville 41-14
Week 17 – d. Pittsburgh 47-36
Week 10 – d. Buffalo 41-17
Week 14 – d. St. Louis 47-7
Week 1 – d. Tampa Bay 42-14
Week 13 – d. Jacksonville 42-39
Week 1 – d. Cleveland 43-13
Week 12 – d. Jacksonville 42-20
Undoubtedly, though, the most unique aspect of this year’s 40-point performances is that they came with two starting quarterbacks.
Marcus Mariota was 14-24 for 248 yards and three touchdowns in the Week 1 victory at Cleveland. Ryan Tannehill was 14-18 for 259 yards and two touchdowns (he also ran for two touchdowns) Sunday against Jacksonville. In 1999 Steve McNair directed both 40-point performances. In 2009 it was Vince Young and in 2015 it was Mariota each time.
Both quarterbacks, though, took advantage of the playmakers surrounding them. Henry scored on a 74-yard run, A.J. Brown had a 65-yard touchdown reception Sunday and the kickoff team forced and recovered a fumble that led to a touchdown. Against Cleveland, Henry turned a screen pass into a 75-yard touchdown reception, Malcolm Butler scored on an interception return and the defense forced two other turnovers that the offense converted to touchdowns.
“I can remember early in the season when we were talking about how we needed to change some things, and I feel like we are starting to really hit stride,” linebacker Rashaan Evans said. “If all three phases can continue to do that throughout the season, we are going to be in a pretty good position.”
Sunday’s performance moved Tennessee (6-5) into the top half of the league in scoring – barely. They’re 16 at 22.3 points per game. It is a far cry from a five-game stretch earlier this season that included just 55 points and a shutout loss at Denver.
It also is not quite up to the standard of other in this golden era of offense for the NFL. Baltimore leads the league in scoring at 34.1 points per game and already has hit 40 or more three times, including each of its last two contests (the Ravens play the L.A. Rams on Sunday night). Last season’s highest scoring team, Kansas City, finished with 40 or more five times.
“It kind of shows you what we can do when you execute up front when guys are finishing, and you have a special guy in (Henry) who can make guys miss and run through tackles and finish long runs,” Tannehill said. “You saw (Brown) catch a short pass and take it to the end zone, Corey (Davis) blocking for him down the field. So, you saw a lot of snapshots of guys executing and making plays and playing hard for each other.
“So yeah, that’s the standard. That’s what we want to do week in and week out. This tape should be a good reminder of that.”
Especially since there are not many like it.