Titans use turnovers, late score to edge past Panthers
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans had a big lead, lost it and then got it back in a 34-27 preseason victory over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday afternoon.
The Titans evened their preseason record at 1-1 and the Panthers fell to 1-1.
Tennessee’s offense, which sputtered last week in a 7-3 loss to the New York Jets, scored on its first three possessions, thanks in part to two first-quarter turnovers forced by the Titans’ defense.
The Titans opened the scoring on a 34-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop and then created a takeaway when cornerback Logan Ryan knocked the ball free from Panthers receiver Devin Funchess on Carolina’s ensuring series.
Kevin Byard picked up the fumble and returned it to the Carolina 13-yard line. The Titans’ offense cashed in when Marcus Mariota hit Delanie Walker for a 4-yard touchdown pass and a 10-0 lead.
Mariota’s day was done after that. He finished 6 of 8 for 61 yards and a touchdown pass. He also ran once for 9 yards.
The Titans’ defense had another takeaway on the next possession, again giving Tennessee the football deep in Carolina territory.
Rookie linebacker Jayon Brown tipped a Derek Anderson pass into the air and Justin Staples picked it off, returning it to the 17. From there, Derrick Henry scored on the first play as the Titans went up 17-0.
The Panthers began to creep back into the game, cutting the lead to 17-7 on Christian McCaffrey’s 17-yard run.
Henry added his second touchdown, this one from 1 yard to push the lead to 24-7 before Carolina added Harrison Butker’s 46-yard field goal before halftime.
Carolina dominated the second half and eventually pulled even at 27 with 3:56 left when Graham Gano connected on a 37-yard field goal.
The Titans punted the ball back to the Panthers, but Tennessee’s defense rose to the occasion again, forcing another turnover when Aaron Wallace sacked Garrett Gilbert and Jimmy Staten recovered at the 3. David Fluellen scored and the Titans held on for the victory.