No A.J. Brown, no problem for the Tennessee Titans.
For the second straight week in the Tennessee passing game, someone other than Brown has led the way among the receiving corps. Brown missed Sunday’s 33-30 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars with a knee injury, and his return might take a little while.
But just as Corey Davis had a big night in the opener in Denver, on Sunday, it was tight end Jonnu Smith who took the receiving spotlight.
Smith caught two of Ryan Tannehill’s four touchdown passes on the day and added a 63-yard reception on the first play from scrimmage that set up his own 13-yard TD catch two plays later.
In all, Smith had four catches for 84 yards for the Titans on Sunday.
“I never started the season as tight end one, and with that comes a lot of great things,” said Smith, who has three TD passes in two games. “You’re able to have more opportunities and make plays and put yourself, put your team in a better position to win. So I just work really hard, man, and I’m so blessed and humbled to actually be able to showcase everything that I’ve been blessed with and work for,” Smith said.
Speaking of Tannehill, who wound up 18 for 24 for 239 yards with the four TDs, the quarterback did much of his damage in the first half, where he was 11 of 13 with three scores and 156 yards.
Tannehill now has thrown at least two touchdown passes in nine straight regular season games. He gives a lot of the credit the trust he has with his receiving group.
“I see them make it in practice and that builds the confidence, the trust, and then when they make them in games it only deepens that trust. I know in tight coverage if I put the ball in a good spot, then I have a strong belief our guys will go make a play on it. They did it today, and I expect them to keep doing it,” he said.
Getting a Kalu
Josh Kalu came up with a big play toward the end of the first half after the Jaguars had cut the lead to 21-14 with 15 seconds left.
Jags kicker Josh Lambo was going to squib kick the ball down the middle of the field to squeeze time off the clock. But an alert Kalu, playing in the middle of the front line, knocked the ball down and recovered it at the 49-yard line. Tannehill found Anthony Firkser for a 15-yard gain, and the Titans managed to get a 51-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski as time expired to push the lead to 24-14.
That would be big later, as the game was tied at 30 and the Titans needed only a field goal to win it rather than a touchdown.
“It’s coached and it’s executed in practice. Again, it’s going to be great to teach off of just to explain to the guys why we do this stuff here at the end of the half or the game,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “It’s a huge play. And so all the credit to (special teams coach) Craig Aukerman, Ryan Crow, being able to teach that and get these guys ready to execute it when it comes up. It doesn’t come up very often, but it did. And then also to the offensive staff to be able to put the players out there to gain 15 yards that we needed and then call the timeout.”
Veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph left the game in the second half with a leg injury and did not return.
Also, at the end of the game, rookie Chris Jackson, who had been taking most of the nickelback snaps was out of the game with Kristian Fulton in the slot and Tye Smith playing on the outside with Malcolm Butler.