NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It’s in the official NFL game book as “(Shotgun) J. Locker pass short right to J. Hunter for 34 yards, TOUCHDOWN.”
Error aside, is that it? Is that the moment?
Will we look back, later in the season and later in his career and say, “That late touchdown to Hunter that beat the Chargers early in the 2013 season, that was the turning point for Locker. That set his course”?
“I hope it leads to a lot of great things, obviously,” coach Mike Munchak said. “I think it just gives our whole team confidence when you can take the ball 94 yards with no timeouts and (2:05).”
I’ve not been a big believer in Locker to this point, but I’ve also consistently said he gets this year before a big judgment.
Sunday he played a great game, with 23 of 37 passing for 299 yards, the touchdown and a 96.6 passer rating to go with five runs for 68 yards including a 7-yard touchdown.
“It’s going to help build his confidence, it’ll get the guys around him to continue to believe, continue to rally,” safety George Wilson said. “Before the game I always tell him, ‘It’s your team, lead us, we’ll follow.' He absolutely did that.”
The runs did a lot to help him and to keep the Chargers on edge. Only the touchdown play was by design.
“The other ones were just me seeing a lane and (taking) it or not liking what I saw downfield and I had an opportunity to get out of the pocket and make some plays with my legs,” Locker said.
Said Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget: "We were definitely coming after him, but he was just finding little cracks and everything to crawl out of."
Hopefully for Tennessee, Locker can continue to mix in threatening runs and build on big drives like the 99-yarder in Houston that gave the Titans a 1-point lead a week ago in Houston and the 94-yarder that won this one.
One note that still lends context to the Titans intentions and identity.
The game was tied 10-10 at the half. And in the third quarter the Titans ran the ball 10 times and threw it twice. San Diego took a 17-10 lead with 2:42 on the clock in the period.
It doesn’t matter, obviously, when Locker’s throws or his yards come in a good stat line that’s a giant part of a winning effort.
The Titans played more three wide and tried to spread the Chargers out, both to run against them and pass against them. He did better sensing and reacting to pressure than he often has.
Before the last possession the Titans had thrown 27 times and run 29 times, striking a good balance.
Still, the Titans didn’t turn the game over to Locker because they wanted to. With 2:05 on the clock, with no timeouts and with the ball at their own 6-yard line, the Titans had to give the game to him to win.
Twenty-seven percent of his throws and 31 percent of his yards came on that drive.
Perhaps his success will prompt them to turn to him less out of need and more by design.
If this is what he can give them, they certainly should.