Titans come off bye, win 3rd straight beating Ravens 23-20
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are interested only in stacking victories right now.
Reaching the halfway point tied atop the AFC South means they have time to fix what they must do better.
Marcus Mariota threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns, and the Titans beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 Sunday for their third straight victory.
“There’s no question that we have still a lot of work to do,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “There’s no question about that in a lot of areas. But if we can find a way at whatever time in the game to make a play to win the game, that’s all that matters.”
Derrick Henry ran for a 1-yard TD. Safety Kevin Byard also intercepted two passes , giving the second-year pro five picks over his past two games and tying him for the most interceptions in consecutive games since NFL’s 1970 merger. He’s the first with that many since DeAngelo Hall in 2010 for Washington.
The Titans (5-3) also sacked Joe Flacco twice and scored 13 points off Byard’s first interception and a shanked punt.
The Ravens (4-5) have lost three of four going into their bye despite outgaining Tennessee 341-257.
“We’ve been beat up all year, so this will be a good chance to hopefully get healthy and get some guys back,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We were hoping to win this game to get some momentum going into the bye and come out healthy. We’ve got to get on a roll.”
Flacco tried to rally the Ravens with two TD passes in the final 8:56, the last a 1-yard pass to Mike Wallace with 46 seconds left pulling Baltimore within 23-20.
But Justin Tucker’s onside kick attempt didn’t travel 10 yards, skittering almost sideways off the tee before being recovered by Titans linebacker Daren Bates.
Eric Weddle started the rally by picking off Mariota’s overthrown pass for a Baltimore defense that came in with an NFL-best 12 interceptions. Flacco hit Javorius Allen with a 3-yard TD pass with 8:56 left to pull the Ravens within 16-13.
The Titans answered with a 75-yard drive Mariota capped with an 11-yard TD pass to Eric Decker with 3:58 left for the winning TD with the veteran wide receiver breaking loose after seeing other options bottled up by the Ravens.
“It was kind of a vet-savvy move,” Mariota said.
REVVED UP OFFENSE
The Titans had their best opening quarter and led 10-3. Mariota threw his first TD pass inside an opponent’s 20 of the season on a 16-yarder to Rishard Matthews , and it also was the Titans’ first TD in the first quarter since the season opener. The Titans finished with touchdowns on all three drives inside the Ravens 20.
Titans running back DeMarco Murray finally got off the injury report this week, but he hurt a knee in the second quarter. He returned and finished with 19 yards on nine carries.
Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley hurt a shoulder at 8:17 of the third quarter, and he was replaced by left guard James Hurst. Luke Bowanko took over at left guard. Stanley returned in the fourth quarter, but he threw up with 51 seconds left as he walked to the line of scrimmage. He went to the sideline, and Harbaugh did not have an update after the game.
The Titans finally used cornerback Adoree Jackson on offense for the first time this season on their opening drive. He went up the middle for a 20-yard gain on a handoff. But Matthew Judon sacked Mariota on third down, forcing the Titans to settle for a field goal.
The Ravens answered on the next drive with a fake punt, and punter Sam Koch hit Chris Moore for 16 yards on fourth-and-7. Titans cornerback Brice McCain was flagged for a facemask with Moore’s helmet coming off to reach the Tennessee 13. But the Ravens settled for a field goal.
“We need to be better,” Flacco said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Ravens: Bye week.
Titans: Host the Cincinnati Bengals.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker