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Tennessee Titans travel to Atlanta Falcons to begin Preseason

 

Tennessee Titans (0-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-0)

Friday, August 14th, 2015 | 7:00pm EDT/6:00pm CDT
Georgia Dome | Atlanta, GA | TV: WKRN/NFLN

Tennessee TitansNashville, TN – The Tennessee Titans open their 2015 preseason schedule this week on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. Kickoff at the Georgia Dome (capacity 71,228) is scheduled for 7:00pm EDT/6:00pm CDT on Friday, August 14th, 2015.

The game will be televised regionally on the Titans Preseason TV Network, including flagship WKRN-News 2 in Nashville. Play-by-play announcer Cory Curtis and analyst Eddie George will call the action, while Audra Martin will report from the sidelines. Additionally, NFL Network will broadcast the game live to a national audience.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester (17) gets tackled by Tennessee Titans strong safety Bernard Pollard (31) after a catch in the second quarter of their game at the Georgia Dome. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester (17) gets tackled by Tennessee Titans strong safety Bernard Pollard (31) after a catch in the second quarter of their game at the Georgia Dome. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will carry the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, gameday host Rhett Bryan and sideline reporter Jonathan Hutton.

The Tennessee Titans

Marcus Mariota, Dick LeBeau Headline Group Making Titans Preseason Debut

Quarterback Marcus Mariota is among several newcomers expected to appear this week in a Titans uniform for the first time. The rookie signal caller was the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, becoming the highest drafted quarterback in Titans/Oilers history. He was the first of nine picks in the team’s draft class, which also includes wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the 40th overall selection in the second round.

Tennessee TitansAt the University of Oregon, Mariota broke nearly every major passing record for the school, totaling 10,796 career passing yards and 105 touchdown passes. The three-time All-Pac-12 selection completed at least one touchdown pass in every game during his career, and he became one of four players in FBS history to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards (2,237), joining Dan LeFevour, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick.

In his final season with the Ducks, Mariota won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player and led his team to the College Football Playoff Championship Game. He passed for 4,454 yards and 42 touchdowns with only four interceptions, added 770 yards and 15 touchdowns as a runner, and even caught a touchdown pass. His 58 total touchdowns during the season (passing, rushing and receiving) shattered the previous Pac-12 record of 41 (Matt Barkley, 2011).

Additionally, Titans general manager Ruston Webster helped negotiate deals for the following free agents, all of whom are expected to compete for extensive playing time: Buffalo Bills safety Da’Norris Searcy, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas, Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Anthony Fasano, Carolina tackle Byron Bell and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

Entering his second season as Titans head coach, Ken Whisenhunt kept his staff primarily intact from 2014, but one of the few changes he made was adding Dick LeBeau as assistant head coach/defense.

LeBeau, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, brings 56 years of NFL experience as a player and coach to Tennessee, including 13 total seasons (1995-96, 2004-14) as the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the “zone blitz” architect managing the Pittsburgh defense, the unit finished among the top-five in total defense 10 times and ranked first overall five times.

The Atlanta Falcons

While the Titans anticipate seeing Mariota in action for the first time, the Falcons will be celebrating a historic debut as well, as Dan Quinn makes his first preseason appearance as the club’s head coach. He takes over the club after coordinating the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense for the last two seasons (2013-14), during which time the unit allowed a league-low 270.4 yards per game, 15.2 points per game, and 178.8 passing yards per game.

Atlanta FalconsThe Falcons suffer no shortage of star power on their veteran roster, beginning with eighth-year quarterback Matt Ryan, the owner of nearly every Falcons passing record. The three-time Pro Bowl selection has topped the 4,000-yard passing mark in each of the last four campaigns and has a franchise best 28,166 career passing yards. In 2014, he threw for 4,694 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Ryan’s top passing targets, wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, have a total of six Pro Bowls between them—four by White and two by Jones.

Titans-Falcons Series at a Glance

  • Overall series (regular & postseason): Titans lead 7-6
  • Regular season series: Titans lead 7-6
  • Postseason series: None
  • Total points: Titans 306, Falcons 321
  • Current streak: One win by Falcons
  • Titans at home vs. Falcons: 5-1
  • Titans on road vs. Falcons: 2-5
  • Longest winning streak by Titans: 5 (1993-07)
  • Longest losing streak by Titans: 3 (1978-84)
  • Titans vs. Falcons at Nissan Stadium: 2-0
  • Last time at Nissan Stadium: Falcons 13 at TITANS 20 (10/7/07)
  • Titans vs. Falcons at Georgia Dome: 2-1
  • Last time at Georgia Dome: Titans 17 at FALCONS 23 (11/20/11)
  • First time: Oilers 10 at FALCONS 20 (12/3/72)
  • Ken Whisenhunt’s record vs. Falcons: 2-2 (including 1-0 in playoffs)
  • Dan Quinn’s record vs. Titans: 0-0
  • Ken Whisenhunt’s record vs. Dan Quinn: 0-0

Titans-Falcons Preseason Series

  • Preseason series: Titans lead 5-4
  • Last time in preseason: TITANS 24 at Atlanta 17 (8/23/14)

A Titans Victory Would

Improve Ken Whisenhunt’s career record in the preseason to 11-19.

Give the Titans their third consecutive preseason victory over the Falcons in as many years.

Give the Titans a 6-4 all-time lead against the Falcons in the preseason.

Titans-Falcons Series History

After 13 meetings in the regular season, the Titans-Falcons series has trended toward Tennessee after initial dominance by the Falcons. Dating back to 1972, three seasons into the AFL-NFL merger, the Titans are 7-6 against the Falcons, including wins in five consecutive meetings from 1993 to 2007. The Falcons won four out of the first five contests from 1972 to 1984.

The Falcons began to reverse the recent trend, however, on November 20th, 2011, when they defeated the Titans at the Georgia Dome 23-17. Matt Ryan passed for 316 yards and a touchdown, while Michael Turner rushed for 100 yards for the Falcons. It was enough to offset a late comeback attempt by Titans then-rookie quarterback Jake Locker, who completed a pair of second-half touchdown passes to Nate Washington.

The last time the Falcons visited the Titans in the regular season was Week 5 in 2007. A 76-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive back Vincent Fuller provided the winning margin in a 20-13 Titans win. Despite five Titans turnovers, Tennessee clung to victory by keeping the Falcons under 200 yards of total offense and by limiting the Falcons to 22 percent on third down.

In the closing moments of the game, an athletic, leaping play at the one-yard line by Albert Haynesworth to force an eight yard loss provided the game’s signature moment.

Against the Falcons, the Titans are 2-0 at Nissan Stadium (opened in 1999) and 2-1 at the Georgia Dome (opened in 1992). However, perhaps the most notable Titans game to occur inside the Georgia Dome was not against the Falcons, but rather the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV. The Rams withstood a late rally by the Titans and held on to a 23-16 win.

This is the third consecutive year in which the Titans and Falcons have met in the preseason. The Titans took the first two games, including last year’s 24-17 victory at the Georgia Dome. In nine all-time preseason games, the Titans lead 5-4. The first preseason game ever played at Nissan Stadium was a 17-3 victory for the Titans over the Falcons on August 27th, 1999.

Titans-Falcons: The Last Meeting

Tennessee Titans 17 at Atlanta Falcons 23
Sunday, November 20th, 2011
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

In Week 11 of the 2011 season, the Falcons jumped out to an early lead and survived a late rally to defeat the Titans 23-17 at the Georgia Dome.

The Titans gave up 432 total yards to the Falcons, lost the time of possession battle by nearly 14 minutes (36:59 to 23:01) and were called for 10 penalties, many at inopportune moments. However, they were still in position late in the game to stage a comeback, led by rookie quarterback Jake Locker.

Titans starter Matt Hasselbeck, who completed 13 of 25 passes for 124 yards and one interception, suffered a right elbow injury in the third quarter. With the Falcons leading 23-3, Locker entered and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Nate Washington, the latter of which came with 3:06 on the clock in the fourth quarter.

Armed with three timeouts, the Titans kicked off to the Falcons, who took possession at their own 20-yard line after a touchback. On the next play, Falcons running back Michael Turner gained 27 yards, giving him 100 yards for the game. Then, on third-and-six from the Tennessee 49, Matt Ryan completed a six-yard pass to wide receiver Harry Douglas, allowing the Falcons to run out the clock.

Good early field position helped the Falcons build a quick lead. The Titans were forced to punt from deep in their own territory after their initial possession, and the Falcons took over on the Tennessee 44-yard line. Five plays later, Ryan found tight end Tony Gonzalez for a 17-yard touchdown pass.

On the Titans’ second possession, a Hasselbeck pass intended for Lavelle Hawkins was intercepted by Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson. The Falcons capitalized with a 19-yard field goal by Matt Bryant and added another Bryant field goal (33 yards) on their next drive.

The Titans saved their best offensive effort of the first half for the second period’s final minute. They took over at their own 10-yard line with 1:01 on the clock and went 62 yards on seven plays. Rob Bironas’ 46-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in the half cut the Falcons’ lead to 13-3.

The Falcons took the opening kickoff of the second half and scored their second touchdown of the game, but only after they were helped by a key Titans penalty. On a seven-yard completion by the Falcons on third and – 10, the Titans were whistled for illegal contact. Then, on successive plays, Ryan connected with Roddy White on a 43-yard pass and Turner rumbled into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown.

After Bryant added another field goal, this time from 24 yards, Locker took the field for the Titans. Assisted by a 49-yard kickoff return by Marc Mariani to set up the series, Locker completed a 40-yard touchdown pass to Washington on his third pass attempt, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 23-10.

Following an exchange of punts, the Falcons appeared ready to thwart the Titans’ hopes. They drove deep into Titans territory, when an offsides penalty was called on the Titans on fourth-and-one to set up a first-and-goal.

But middle linebacker Colin McCarthy delivered a blow on Turner to knock the ball loose, and linebacker Will Witherspoon recovered the fumble.

Locker, who completed nine of 19 passes for 140 yards (107.3 passer rating), directed the offense on what would be Tennessee’s final series of the game. He converted a fourth-and-17 with a 22-yard pass to Jared Cook and found Lavelle Hawkins for a 32-yard gain. Washington scored on a four-yard pass, but it would be the last time the Titans touched the ball.


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