Officially, it’s not the first game-winning drive of Jake Locker’s career.
Last season’s 72-yard march to an overtime field goal against Detroit is in the books as number one.
Sunday’s 10-play, 94-yard drive that lifted the Tennessee Titans to a 20-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers will be much more memorable, though, because unlike the Lions game, which was tied at the time, there was no doubt about exactly what needed to happen when the offense got possession at its own 6-yard line with 2:05 remaining and no timeouts.
“I think there was a calm feeling. I don’t think there was panic,” Locker said. “… I think there was just a feeling that we had enough time to go down and make something happen. That’s what the guys believed in.”
A play-by-play look at how the Titans drove 94 yards to the game-winning touchdown:
• 1-10-TEN 6 (2:05) (Shotgun) 10-J. Locker pass short middle to 13-K.Wright to TEN 15 for 9 yards (52-R.Walker; 38-M.Gilchrist).
Mike Munchak elected to use his final timeout after the defense held on third down. That effectively bought the Titans two extra plays – the punt and this throw to the middle of the field, which was an option because the clock was guaranteed to stop for the two-minute warning.
• 2-1-TEN 15 (1:59) (Shotgun) 10-J.Locker pass short right to 82-D.Walker to TEN 26 for 11 yards (20-C.Butler).
Walker probably had a chance to get out of bounds and stop the clock but turned upfield and got the first down instead.
• 1-10-TEN 26 (1:39) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 10-J.Locker pass short left to 17-D.Williams ran OB at TEN 35 for 9 yards.
Any defense is happy to allow underneath throws such as this one provided that they make the tackle inbounds. Williams’ ability to get to the sideline was crucial.
• 2-1-TEN 35 (1:33) (Shotgun) 10-J.Locker pass short middle to 13-K.Wright to SD 49 for 16 yards (37-J.Addae; 31-R.Marshall).
For a moment it looked as if Wright might make something spectacular happen. He caught the ball in the middle of the field, made a man miss and nearly got through the secondary. He did get across midfield at least, which turned up the excitement in the stadium.
• 1-10-SD 49 (1:10) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 10-J.Locker pass short middle to 14-M.Preston to SD 45 for 4 yards (52-R.Walker).
A win for the defense in that it was a short gain and the clock kept running.
• 2-6-SD 45 (:51) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 10-J.Locker pass incomplete deep left to 82-D.Walker.
Walker failed to make the catch yes, but he also deflected the ball right to the hands of safety Marcus Gilchrist. The Titans tight end made a desperate lunge and got a hand in against Gilchrist, which turned a game-ending interception into a drive-saving incompletion.
Locker said: “That’s a huge play. If [Walker] quits on that play, feels sorry for himself because he dropped it, the game’s over. So him continuing to play right there and find a way to get the ball out keeps us alive and keeps that drive alive.”
• 3-6-SD 45 (:44) (Shotgun) 10-J.Locker pass short right to 85-N.Washington to SD 34 for 11 yards (20-C.Butler).
His eighth catch of the day got Washington to a career-high 131 receiving yards (one more than his previous best) and got the Titans to the Chargers’ 34, close enough to the end zone that they did not have to rely on a desperation heave to try and score.
• 1-10-SD 34 (:28) 10-J.Locker spiked the ball to stop the clock.
At this point, time on the clock was more precious than the down.
• 2-10-SD 34 (:27) (Shotgun) 10-J.Locker pass incomplete deep middle to 17-D.Williams.
Williams had the first chance to be a hero when he ran a post pattern against one-on-one coverage. He looked to be open but Locker couldn’t get the ball to him.
• 3-10-SD 34 (:21) (Shotgun) 10-J.Locker pass short right to 15-J.Hunter for 34 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Hunter a 6-foot-4 wide receiver, did not run past Crezdon Butler, a 6-foot-1 cornerback. He went up and over him on a jump ball for a pass that was underthrown.
Said Munchak: “I think it just gives our whole team confidence when you can take the ball 94 yards with no timeouts and [2:05 remaining]. … I thought it was fun to watch these guys battle through it. Here we go again, another tight game at home, first time at home and we come away with the type of win we needed.”
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