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Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)
Sunday, September 20th, 2015 | 1:00pm EDT/Noon CDT
Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Titans (1-0) go on the road this week for the second consecutive game to begin the season, traveling to face the Cleveland Browns (0-1). Kickoff at FirstEnergy Stadium (capacity 67,431) is scheduled for 1:00pm EDT/Noon CDT on Sunday, September 20th.
A win this week would give the Titans a 2-0 start to the regular season for the first time since 2008, and it would mark only the second time in franchise history the Titans won back-to-back road games in Weeks 1 and 2 (1981).This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Tom McCarthy will handle play-by-play duties alongside analyst Adam Archuleta.
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, game day host Rhett Bryan and sideline reporter Jonathan Hutton.
Last week the Titans opened their second season under head coach Ken Whisenhunt with a 42-14 victory at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota passed for four touchdowns in his first NFL start. The second-overall draft pick was 13-of-16 passing for 209 yards without throwing an interception, and he led the team to touchdowns on five of his seven drives before exiting in the third quarter.
Mariota achieved a perfect passer rating of 158.3, becoming the first player since at least 1933 with a perfect passer rating in his first game and the first player in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) with a perfect rating in his first start (minimum 10 attempts).
Also, Mariota joined former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton as the only rookies in NFL history with four touchdown passes in a season opener. No rookie in NFL annals had thrown four touchdown passes in one half before Mariota did so.
Mariota’s top target in the game was wide receiver Kendall Wright, who led the team with 101 yards on four catches, including a career-long 52-yard touchdown reception early in the first quarter. It marked the fourth career 100-yard game for Wright, who reached 2,500 career receiving yards in the contest.
Defensively, the Titans got big contributions from a number of players. They recorded four sacks, including a pair of sacks by outside linebacker Derrick Morgan, and they also posted a pair of interceptions—the first a pick-six by cornerback Coty Sensabaugh and the second an athletic grab by rookie outside linebacker Deiontrez Mount. In 55 previous season openers in franchise history, the team had recorded four sacks and an interception return for a touchdown only once (September 4th, 1988 at the Indianapolis Colts).
Browns in Second Season under Mike Pettine
Like the Titans, the Browns are in their second year under their current head coach. Mike Pettine was hired in January 2014, and in his first season, the Browns finished 7-9, accumulating their highest win total since 2007.
Sunday’s matchup is Cleveland’s home opener. In Week 1, they went to New York and fell to the Jets by a final score of 31-10. Browns starting quarterback Josh McCown, who was beginning his 13th NFL campaign, was lost for the game in the first quarter due to injury.
When McCown left, 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel entered the contest, and on Manziel’s second pass, he connected with Travis Benjamin for a 54-yard touchdown. Manziel was 13-of-24 passing for 182 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Jets.
The Browns defense, which finished second in the NFL last season with 21 interceptions, features one of the NFL’s top defensive back groups. The unit returns three Pro Bowl selections from 2014: cornerback Joe Haden and safeties Dashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner.
Titans-Browns Series At A Glance
A Titans Victory Would
What To Look For This Week
S Michael Griffin needs one interception to become the ninth player in franchise history to reach 25 career interceptions.
QB Marcus Mariota can become the second quarterback in franchise history to record back-to-back games with four touchdown passes, joining Billy Volek (2004).
QB Marcus Mariota can become the first quarterback in franchise history to start the first two games of his rookie season.
TE Delanie Walker (249 career receptions for 2,969 yards) needs one reception to reach 250 for his NFL career and 31 yards to reach 3,000 for his career.
WR Kendall Wright can record back-to-back 100-yard receiving games for the first time in his career.
Titans-Browns Series History
This week’s game marks the 63rd all-time meeting in the regular season between the Titans and Browns. In the previous 62 outings, the Browns own a 34-28 advantage, including separate nine- and six-game winning streaks by the Browns. The Titans’ nine-game losing streak against the Browns from 1970-74 is tied for the longest in franchise history (Oakland Raiders, 1966-73).
The two teams met for the first time in 1970, when as a part of the AFL-NFL merger, the Browns moved from the NFL Central Division to the AFC Central, where they would compete with the Oilers/Titans as divisional foes for 32 seasons. The series was interrupted after the 1995 season as a result of the former Browns moving to Baltimore to begin play as the Ravens.
A new team was granted to Cleveland to begin play once again in 1999. The new version of the Browns kept the old team’s name, records and logos and was once again a member of the AFC Central until divisional realignment in 2002 sent them to the AFC North and the Titans to the AFC South.
After the reincarnation of the Browns in 1999, the Titans won the next five meetings. Since then, however, the Browns have the advantage, taking four out of six games.
On October 5th, 2014, the Browns recorded an historic comeback against the Titans at Nissan Stadium, erasing a 25-point deficit to win 29-28. It was the largest road comeback in NFL history.
The last time the Titans and Browns clashed in Cleveland was Week 4 of the 2011 campaign. In that game, Matt Hasselbeck completed three touchdown passes in the first half, including an 80-yarder to tight end Jared Cook, and the Titans enjoyed a 31-13 victory.
Titans-Browns: The Last Meeting
Cleveland Browns 29 at Tennessee Titans 28
In a game of two remarkably different halves, the Browns stormed back from a 28-3 deficit in the second quarter to defeat the Titans 29-28 at Nissan Stadium.
Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer completed a six-yard touchdown pass with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Billy Cundiff’s extra point provided the Browns their first lead of the game.
The Titans offense, with Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback in relief of an injured Jake Locker, had a final drive to try and get into field goal range, but the game clock expired with the Titans on the Cleveland 47-yard line.
The comeback by the Browns – the largest comeback in NFL history by a road team – seemed unlikely with just under three minutes remaining in the first half. Whitehurst found wide receiver Justin Hunter for a 75-yard scoring pass, giving the Titans a touchdown on their fourth consecutive series and extending their lead to 25 points.
But the Cleveland defense stiffened, and the Titans would not cross midfield again until the final, futile play of the game.
In the win, Hoyer was 21-of-37 passing for 292 yards and three touchdowns. The Browns also benefited from a 22-carry, 123-yard performance by running back Ben Tate.
Locker completed eight passes on 11 attempts for 79 yards, and he added 34 rushing yards. He got the scoring started in the first quarter with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright, and in the second quarter, he finished an 80-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.
However, with four minutes to play in the first half, Locker banged his right hand on a helmet and was unable to continue. Whitehurst entered and picked up where Locker left off, firing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Wright and moments later the 75-yarder to Hunter.
On the first play of the second half, Hoyer found wide receiver Taylor Gabriel for a 49-yard completion. That led to a 42-yard field goal by Cundiff.
Briefly in the third quarter, it appeared as though the momentum might swing back to the Titans. Browns returner Travis Benjamin tried to field a punt from Brett Kern, only to muff the catch. Marqueston Huff recovered the ball for the Titans, but the down was replayed due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Huff.
In the fourth quarter, Browns linebacker Tank Carder blocked a punt by Kern, and the ball traveled out of the end zone for a safety, making the score 28-15. Moments later, another Titans takeaway was negated due to a penalty.
Cornerback Jason McCourty picked off a Hoyer pass and returned the ball to the Cleveland one-yard line, but it was brought back due to an illegal contact call. Hoyer took advantage, capping the 67-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown strike to Benjamin.
Clinging to a six-point lead, the Titans had a chance to hold on. Safety Michael Griffin made a diving interception on a pass from Hoyer to Andrew Hawkins, getting the ball back to the offense with five minutes remaining.
Then, on third-and-six from the Tennessee 37-yard line, tight end Delanie Walker caught a pass from Whitehurst for a first down. However, the Browns successfully challenged the spot of the ball, leaving the Titans with a fourth-and-one.
Rather than punting, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt kept the offense on the field and called for a quarterback sneak. But Whitehurst’s lunge for the first down was denied by the Browns defense, and a replay challenge from the Titans proved fruitless.
The Browns took possession with 3:03 on the clock and were in no rush as Hoyer needed just four plays to claim the lead. His 23-yard pass to Austin was followed by an illegal contact penalty on the Titans, a six-yard completion to Gabriel and Benjamin’s second touchdown of the afternoon.
Topics104.5 FM The Zone, Adam Archuleta, AFC Central, AFC North, AFC South, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Tate, Billy Volek, Brett Kern, Brian Hoyer, CBS, Charlie Whitehurst, Cleveland OH, Coty Sensabaugh, Delanie Walker, Derrick Morgan, FirstEnergy Stadium, Frank Wycheck, Houston Oilers, Indianapolis Colts, Jacky Lee, Jake Locker, Jared Cook, Jason McCourty, Johnny Manziel, Josh McCown, Justin Hunter, Ken Whisenhunt, Kendall Wright, Marcus Mariota, Marqueston Huff, Matt hasselbeck, Michael Griffin, Mike Keith, Minnesota Vikings, Nashville TN, New York Jets, NFL, NFL Draft, NFL Pro Bowl, Nissan Stadium, Oakland Raiders, Rhett Bryan, Steve McNair, Super Bowl, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Titans, Titans Radio Network, Tom McCarthy, Travis Benjamin, WTVF-News Channel 5
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