Let the Jake Locker party begin! Through the first two weeks, the former first round pick of the Titans has not turned the ball over, and his team has looked pretty good in the process. Now with the season being three weeks old, it is a good sign that he is able to drive his team down the field in the waning moments of a game in order to pick up a win. Locker actually out-performed Philip Rivers on this day. Each of the quarterbacks threw a touchdown with no interceptions. The difference between the two is that Rivers only managed to throw for 184 yards while Locker tossed the ball for 299. And, oh by the way, the former Washington Huskies QB’s only touchdown pass came with 21 seconds left in the game to rookie wide out Justin Hunter (and it went for 34 yards). Tennessee was lucky to win this game, and below I will tell you why.
The Chargers started the game off in control. Rivers hooked up with Antonio Gates for a touchdown on San Diego’s opening drive of the game. The Titans were unable to do anything initially. Penalties continued to back them up and Jake Locker was missing a lot of throws in the early going. This all changed on their third drive of the game when they suddenly remembered how to run the ball. Chris Johnson was slashing in between the tackles and was picking up yardage by the chunk. The Titans cut the game to 7-3 early in the second quarter. They were also able to avoid disaster when a special teams error put the defense in poor position. What happened was the long snapper, Beau Brinkley, shot the ball at punter Brett Kern too low and far outside. Kern was able to pounce on the ball at the Titan 30 yard line. Following this blunder, the Philip Rivers threw what looked like a can-of-corn touchdown to Eddie Royal in the back left corner of the end zone, but rookie Keenan Allen was flagged for offensive pass interference and the play did not count. Frustrated, Philip Rivers argued the call and he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. So instead of a 14-3 game, it was 1st and goal from the 30 yard line. The Bolts were unable to inflict nothing but a three point dent with the given circumstances, so the game was 10-3.
Jake Locker brought his team down the field and tied the score at 10 late in the first half. Their final drive of the second quarter went for 76 yards and was capped by a seven yard Locker TD run. The Chargers attempted to reclaim a lead going into halftime, but the Nick Novak 38 yard field goal was blocked by Bernard Pollard (crashing off the edge) and the game remained tied going into the third quarter. To recap, the Chargers missed out on four points after the Titans special teams error in the middle of the second. They also failed on a mid-range field goal attempt, and the law of averages would tell you that Novak should have made that kick. That leaves San Diego seven points lighter than they should have been as the game forged into the second half.
In the third quarter the Chargers were able to go up 17-10 with a 1 yard Ronnie Brown touchdown run. Philip Rivers began to form a real bond with Danny Woodhead as he caught a few balls in the flat. It is also interesting to note that Woodhead received a bulk of the carries (over Ryan Mathews) in the second half. This is especially surprising since Mathews did not turn the ball over at all in this game. Anyways, the game would advance into the fourth quarter with a score of 17-10 in favor of the road team. Late in the quarter, the Titans cut the lead to four with a 37 yard field goal. When the score changed to 17-13 there was only 6:07 remaining and the Chargers attempted to drain the rest of the clock. Ultimately they were only able to waste 4:02 away and the back door was left open for Jake Locker to take his team down the field for victory with 2:05 left and a timeout to work with. The final drive went for 94 yards and ultimately Jake Locker was able to get the job done. The Titans converted two third downs on their game-winning drive (with one of those conversions being the 34 yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter) and Tennessee was able to close out the game and earn their second win.
The Chargers have to feel sick. Those seven points they could have had would have been enough to win them this game. Also, they let Tennessee off the hook after they committed 11 penalties for 167 yards. And for the third straight week this defense has given up at least 449 yards (452 for this game to be exact). This defense is not as strong as it has been in recent years, and that could be a real issue going forward for the Bolts.
Anyways, this is a nice win for the Titans and a big step forward in the career of Jake Locker. He proved that he can manage a game for the majority of the duration, but then he also proved he could win a game when the team had to get the ball down the field. It is certainly encouraging that he has not turned the ball over through three games and if it had not been for a late collapse on the road in Houston this team could be 3-0. It is a good time to be a Titan fan and this team is not the same old squad that people can step over. Mike Munchak has them playing at a high level and they are bringing the toughness each and every Sunday.