Countdown to Kickoff: 73 Days

David Boclair

The countdown to kickoff continues.

The Tennessee Titans will open the 2020 regular season Sept. 14 at Denver. That is 73 days away. So, today we look at one way the number 73 figures into the team’s recent history.

It was the biggest game in franchise history, and it came down to the final play, which is one of the more memorable ones in NFL history.

From start to finish of Super Bowl XXXIV, though, the Tennessee Titans ran 73 plays on offense. That was more than in any of that season’s other three playoff contests (the previous high was 66 in the wild card round against Buffalo) and more than all but two of the 16 regular-season contests.

The play count grew with each successive quarter – from 11 in the first to 13 in the second to 19 in the third and a whopping 30 in the fourth. That final period also produced 169 yards of total offense (46 percent of the final total), more than half of which came on the final drive. By comparison, the Titans had 194 yards of total offense in the victory over the Bills that kicked off the postseason run.

Tennessee ran the ball 36 times – 28 by running back Eddie George and eight by quarterback Steve McNair – for 159 yards. Another 36 plays were passes that produced 208 yards (on 22 completions) and were spread out among seven different receivers (wide receiver Derrick Mason and tight end Jackie Harris were targeted eight times each). The other play was a sack of McNair that lost six yards early in the second quarter.

The St. Louis Rams ran just 60 offensive plays but came out on top 23-16.

The last Super Bowl loser to run at least 73 plays was the Carolina Panthers, which fell 24-10 to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 despite a 75-56 edge in offensive plays. In the four years since, the team that scored the most points also ran the most plays, most notably New England, which ran 93 to Atlanta’s 46 in Super Bowl LI, and Kansas City, which had a 75-54 margin over San Francisco earlier this year.

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