ATLANTA -- The Tennessee Titans found a blueprint they can follow to keep the wins coming in their 24-10 triumph over the Falcons on Sunday. Head coach Mike Vrabel stresses being sound in all three phases of the game, and the Titans checked each of the boxes in their much-needed win on the road to break a two-game losing streak.
Tennessee jumped out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter and then relied on its defense, special teams and, ultimately, running back Derrick Henry in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
"For the first time, I feel as a team we showed what we can really do when we hit on all cylinders," linebacker Rashaan Evans said.
It's a formula they can stick to the rest of the season.
Avoiding negative plays
Quarterback Marcus Mariota once again did an excellent job of not turning the ball over. Through four games, he’s yet to throw an interception or lose a fumble.
Atlanta was unable to post a single sack against a team that had given up an NFL-high 17 sacks through the first three weeks of the season. That was the most telling stat for Tennessee's offense.
Mariota pointed to the offensive line when asked to explain why the Titans didn't give up any sacks this week despite rotating Jamil Douglas and rookie Nate Davis at right guard. He also credited the receivers.
"The guys up front gave us time and the opportunity to attack the ball down the field," Mariota said after the game. "I thought our guys outside ran some incredible routes. They created a lot of separation and made it easy to throw it. They found windows pretty consistently."
Decisive in the passing game
Mariota found Brown across the middle on a play-action pass that hit him in stride, leading to a 55-yard catch-and-run for the opening score. If that throw is not on the money, Brown is not able to accelerate through the catch before he cut it back and outran the defense to the end zone for his first career touchdown.
The throw to Davis was an even better example of excellent timing. The ball was out as soon as Mariota hit the third step in his drop and before Davis made his break toward the sideline. Mariota's pass was perfectly placed, leading Davis out of his break and away from the defender on the 23-yard touchdown. Davis said he and Mariota worked extensively to fine-tune the timing of that route.
"He threw it up early and gave me a chance to make a play," Davis said. "A lot of trust and timing goes into that. We repped that plenty of times. He throws that ball pretty good every time. I just have to do my job of winning and getting where I'm supposed to be when I'm supposed to be there."
Mariota's decisive play in the pocket helped convert a couple of early third-and-long situations and contributed to Tennessee jumping out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter. Once the Titans took the lead, the defense made sure they'd hold on to it.
Defense takes over
Tennessee kept Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan under constant duress, sacking him five times and registering 12 quarterback hits. Linebacker Harold Landry finished with two sacks, and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey's first sack of the season resulted in a strip and fumble recovery to give the Titans their only turnover on the day.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees devised a plan to keep dangerous wide receiver Julio Jones from racking up the impressive numbers he normally does. Jones finished with four catches for 52 yards and was outdone by Brown, who wears the same No. 11 for the Titans. The two swapped jerseys after the game.
Special teams did their part too. Punter Brett Kern helped control the field-position battle thanks to a 45.0 average on five punts. Kern pinned the Falcons inside their 20-yard line five times. Atlanta was forced to start on their 5-yard line and 2-yard line after two of Kearn's punts.
Running game chews the clock
The fourth quarter featured a heavy dose of the ground game, with Henry carrying the ball 10 times, leading him to reach the 100-yard plateau for the first time this season.
"That was a hell of a job," Vrabel said during his postgame speech via the team's website. "Everybody was doing their job and then trying to do it a little bit better. Keep doing it. That's what works.
"Bring a great defense, bring a run game. We found a way to finish drives, finish through the red zone and do all the stuff that we talked about."