The countdown to kickoff continues.
The Tennessee Titans will open the 2020 regular season Sept. 14 at Denver. That is 91 days away. So, today we look at one way the number 91 figures into the team’s history.
A.J. Brown made his share of big plays as a rookie. More than his share, in fact.
The second-round draft pick out of Ole Miss led the NFL with nine gains of 45 yards or more last season. No one else in the NFL had more than six.
The biggest of those was his 91-yard touchdown reception on Dec. 8 at Oakland. It was the Tennessee Titans’ longest play of the season, the fourth-longest in franchise history and the longest since 1965 (when the then-Houston Oilers were still a member of the American Football League).
Only two players, Olamide Zaccheaus of Atlanta (93 yards) and Robby Anderson of the New York Jets (92 yards), had pass plays that covered more ground in 2019.
The Titans and Raiders were tied 7-7 in the opening minute of the second quarter when Brown got behind the secondary on a play-action pass. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill hit him in stride just across midfield. The 6-foot-1, 226-pound wide receiver shook off the only tackler who had a shot at him and ran untouched (pictured) the rest of the way for the score. Tennessee eventually won 42-21.
Two weeks later, Brown scored on a 49-yard touchdown run against New Orleans. That made him only the second player since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger with a touchdown reception of 90-plus yards and a touchdown run of 45-plus yards in the same season. Craig James did it with New England in 1985.
Collectively, the Titans had 30 plays that gained 30 yards or more in 2019. Brown accounted for one-third of them, including at least one in six of the final eight contests.
All of it has created sizable expectations for what is to come.