Perhaps the best that can be said about Ryan Fitzpatrick’s first start in place of Jake Locker is that the veteran quarterback hit the ground running.
The one thing the Tennessee Titans figured to miss while Locker is sidelined by a hip and knee strains was his ability to make plays with his feet. As it turned out, though, Fitzpatrick proved pretty nimble in his own right during Sunday’s 26-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at LP Field.
The 30-year-old brought the offense to life when he scrambled for 26 yards and a first down on the second play of the second half. Fewer than two minutes later, the Titans scored for the first time.
He started the next scoring drive with a nine-yard run and capped the next with a nine-yard touchdown run that put Tennessee ahead for the first time, 17-13.
“I think he did a good job,” running back Jackie Battle said. “He stepped in and, just like Jake, he made some plays with his legs. I didn’t think he way the type of guy who could make plays with his legs, but he made some huge first downs for us with his legs.”
Fitzpatrick finished as the Titans’ leading rusher with 50 yards on six carries, his best running performance since he ran for 74 yards with Buffalo on Sept. 26, 2010. The 26-yard run was his longest since Nov. 29, 2009.
“I did – after doing it – make a, I think, conscious effort to get out a little bit more and make some plays,” Fitzpatrick said. “That was one of the highlights, I guess. The thing that got us going was kind of getting out of the pocket a little bit and gave us a little bit of momentum there. We just couldn’t keep it.”
Locker averaged 27 rushing yards in the three full games he played, the bulk of which came in Week 2 against San Diego (68 yards on five carries).
Fitzpatrick’s passing didn’t quite measure up, though. He completed 21 of 41 for 247 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. His passer rating was 57.7.
Locker, who has not thrown an interception, had a passer rating of 74.0 or better in his appearances.
“When you make a change you know it is going to affect your football team, you just don’t know how,” coach Mike Munchak said. “…[Fitzpatrick] had a couple nice runs when there was nobody open. He found lanes and took off and got the chains going.”
Just the way Locker would have done it.
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