Amani Hooker

Titans safety Amani Hooker tackles Rams running back Darrell Henderson short of a first down in Tennessee's 28-16 victory in Los Angeles.

For much of the Derrick Henry era, the big running back and the remainder of the Tennessee Titans offense has carried the defense.

Sunday night in prime time and with Henry on the shelf with a foot injury, it was the defense's turn to pay that back.

The payback came in the form of a convincing 28-16 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, complete with five sacks of Matthew Stafford – three by Jeffery Simmons – and two second-quarter interceptions that helped give the Titans to a 21-3 halftime lead.

“Those guys played fantastic. It was fun to watch them play,” Vrabel said of the defense. “I thought Shane (Bowen) called a great game. I thought all the assistants were ready to go to make the adjustments. But all the credit goes to the players with the impact that the front had and the pressures, forcing (Stafford) into some bad decisions.”

The Titans improved to 7-2 and maintined the top seed in the AFC, as they marched through the toughest portion of their schedule to run their win streak to five games. That streak includes wins over Buffalo, Kansas City, Indianapolis and the Rams.

To turn in such a performance against the Rams with Henry out of the lineup was even more impressive for the Titans.

“We knew that Derrick wasn't going to be with us early on in the week. I felt like the guys responded and had a great week. Coaches got players ready that weren't here, and they played in the game and made plays to help us win,” Vrabel said.

After staking the Rams to a 3-0 lead following a Ryan Tannehill pass that was picked off by Jalen Ramsey, Tennessee went to work. Pressure from Simmons who had Stafford twisted and spinning as he let the ball go, led to an interception by David Long that set up first-and-goal on the 3. From there, Tannehill found Geoff Swaim to give the Titans a 7-3 lead.

"We played a complete game on defense. We gave up a couple of plays here and there, but what more can you ask for, guys out there flying around and having fun, getting sacks and getting turnovers, said Simmons, holding the game ball from the win.

On the very next series, pressure again from the Titans defensive front led to Kevin Byard jumping the route and returning the ball 24 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 edge.

"We obviously understood the situation this entire week with Derrick, but we're just a resilient bunch. I've been saying that all year. Some games, the offense doesn't play very well and the defense has to hold it down and vice versa. It's all about being a team. it's not about the defense winning it, but we pretty much did what we had to do to get the W," Byard said. 

Thanks to the defense keeping Stafford and the Rams out of rhythm, the Titans then got their offense into the act, with Tannehill keeping on a fourth-and-1 bootleg for Tennessee's third TD of the half.

In the second half, the Rams drove the ball, but were held out of the end zone on two different series, settling for Matt Gay field goals that cut the lead to 21-9.

But after the Titans defense forced a turnover on downs in the fourth quarter with Bud Dupree pressuring Stafford into an errant pass, the Titans tacked on one more touchdown with Adrian Peterson, signed just this week to help replace Henry, scoring to make it 28-9.

Los Angeles finally reached the end zone with 24 seconds left with a consolation score that cut the lead to 12.