Countdown to Kickoff: 41 Days

David Boclair

The countdown to kickoff continues.

The Tennessee Titans will open the 2020 regular season Sept. 14 at Denver. That is 41 days away. So, today we look at one way the number 41 figures into the team’s recent history.

It was a day unlike any other – in several ways.

On Sept. 23, 2012, the Tennessee Titans defeated the Detroit Lions 44-41 in overtime.

The 41 points allowed are the most by Tennessee during the Titans era (1999-present) in a victory. In fact, over the past 21 seasons there have been 24 games in which the Titans allowed 40 points or more. The other 23 were defeats.

Detroit’s final 14 points came in the final 18 seconds of regulation. The Lions scored on a three-yard touchdown pass, recovered an onside kick and two plays later scored on a 46-yard Hail Mary – with a backup quarterback – to force overtime.

That meltdown was preceded by a dizzying array of big plays by Tennessee, which scored touchdowns on a 65-yard punt return by Tommie Campbell, a 105-yard kickoff return by Darius Reynaud, a 71-yard touchdown reception by Nate Washington and a 72-yard interception return by Alterraun Verner.

The Titans’ offense got the ball to start the extra period, drove 72 yards in 13 plays and won it with a 26-yard Rob Bironas field goal (at that time, the first points of any kind in overtime decided the contest). That drive included two carries by running back Chris Johnson that lost eight yards, but it also benefited from a pair of 24-yard completions by quarterback Jake Locker to tight end Craig Stevens.

Speaking of one-of-a-kind performances, it was Locker’s first victory as a starter (in his third try) and created the impression that big things were to come for him and for Tennessee. As it turned out, he set career-highs that day for completions (29) and passing yards (378). Likewise, his passer rating of 113.0 was his best for any game in which he attempted at least 25 passes.

Games like that don’t happen often. For the Titans, it is once in 21 years – and counting.

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