Titans gift game to Chargers with poor coach’s call
PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 October 2018
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NFL International Series, London Game Two: Tennessee Titans 19 Los Angeles Chargers 20
This game must be filed under “What were they thinking of?”, because the Tennessee Titans absolutely blew their chances of victory in front of 84,301 fans at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Titans received the kick-off and marched downfield before the drive stalled and Ryan Succop kicked a 28-yard field goal with 9:44 remaining in the opening quarter.
It would be their only lead and the Los Angeles Chargers responded in lightning fashion, Philip Rivers throwing a 75-yard pass to Tyrell Williams on the first play. Mike Madgley added the extra point and the Chargers were 7–3 ahead.
Tennessee could not move the ball and punted without getting a first down. The response from the Chargers was a long drive which ended with a Badgley field goal from 29 yards out.
Succop kicked his second field goal of the afternoon from 33 yards, two minutes into the second quarter, and forced the Chargers to pun on their next possession.
The Titans took over with all-but 10 minutes remaining in the first half and held the ball for more than nine minutes, until Marcus Mariota threw a pass towards the endzone.
It was tipped and picked off Denzel Perryman on the Los Angeles six-yard line. He returned it to the 20-yard line and the Chargers ran out the clock to end the half with a 10–6 lead.
Mike Williams made the stellar Chargers reception to start the second half, going 55 yards after catching another inch-perfect Rivers pass.
Having been beaten 21–0 against Baltimore last week, there was a fear that the Titans would succumb to another big defeat, but Mariota stepped up and passed the ball downfield with better accuracy and Dion Lewis made a couple of big runs.
Just four minutes after conceding the touchdown to Los Angeles, Tennessee were back in the game as Derrick Henry launched himself over the defensive pile for a touchdown from a yard out.
Los Angeles kept their nerves and, early in the fourth quarter, Badgley kicked a second field goal, this one from 28 yards out, to stretch the lead to seven points.
The next Tennessee drive stalled 35 yards out and Succop failed to kick a 52-yard field goal. In essence it made little difference to the game because the Titans still needed a touchdown.
Any Chargers score would almost certainly seal the victory, but Tennessee, a touchdown and extra-point behind, were definitely still in the game.
What followed was exceptional drama. Tennessee kept making mistakes and redeeming them immediately. With less than 40 seconds remaining, ball was Los Angeles’ three-yard line.
Mariota ran for glory and stretched the ball over the goal-line – the term breaking the plane means the front of the ball touching the nearest part of the goalline. A touchdown was ruled, but, like all touchdown plays it is reviewed.
The decision was that Mariota’s shoulder made contact with the ground before the ball crossed the plane – his legs did not touch the ground as a defender was under him.
With 35 seconds on the clock, Mariota threw a one-yard pass to Luke Stocker. There were gasps all around as Tennessee line up for a two point conversion, a run or pass play from two yards out as opposed to the extra point kick from roughly 33 yards away – still considered almost a chip shot.
The pass was incomplete, but Malcolm Butler, the hero of the Super Bowl just a couple of years ago, was penalised for holding, so Tennessee had another chance. Surely they would kick now. No, and once more Mariota was off target, Adrian Phillips deflecting the ball away.
The onside kick from Succop was pretty awful and Keenan Allen was unchallenged as he fell on the ball. Without timeouts, Tennessee couldn’t stop the clock and it was Los Angeles who were celebrating.