After a rocky start to the season that saw the Titans lose a pair of games against the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee rattled off four consecutive wins — all against teams with a combined 2-9 record — to finish the month of September and set the tone for a winning season. For a team that took a 1-5 start to the season and went on to win 12 of their last 15 games, that kind of resurgence seems almost inevitable.
That kind of momentum is harder to maintain as the season rolls on, but it’s what this Titans team looked like during their four-game win streak. It was the first time this season the team was truly clicking on all cylinders — having a defense that was shutting down opponents and an offense that scored points in bunches, were both featured in Nashville on Sunday.
James Develin put Tennessee up 7-0 on the Buccaneers early with a 15-yard touchdown run that started the Titans’ win streak in style. Star running back Derrick Henry, who was forced to the bench against the Ravens, got back on the field against Tampa Bay and was a force, carrying the ball eight times for 33 yards and a touchdown. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota looked perfectly at home in the offense he helped design, tossing a touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews to put the Titans up 14-7 in the second quarter.
Mariota has been targeting Matthews on the Titans’ first two touchdown passes of the season. He’s currently second in the NFL with 612 receiving yards, and seventh in receiving touchdowns (two). Receivers Corey Davis and Eric Decker have also been solid, with Davis inching up to third on the team in receiving touchdowns with his two scores (seven total receptions for 211 yards and four touchdowns).
For Tampa Bay, rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was just 0-3 for the season after posting a pedestrian 79.1 passer rating in the Bucs’ three losses. Fitzpatrick was nearly untouchable on Sunday, completing 33 of 41 passes for 376 yards and a touchdown. Head coach Dirk Koetter has often done a fantastic job of keeping any version of this team competitive, but Sunday’s game was a clear demonstration of just how badly the 2016 Bucs team was put together by general manager Jason Licht, who now serves as an analyst for ESPN.