CORE 360 Sports

A Homerun and a Couple of Triples Spark Titans Win

Bishop Sankey dives across the goal line for the game winning score.
Rookie running back Bishop Sankey dives across the goal line for the game winning score.

Baseball analogies don’t usually crossover into football stories except in the case of the Tennessee Titans 24-17 come from behind win over the Atlanta Falcons in the third preseason game of 2014.

The Titans got a homerun on a 63 yard touchdown pass at the end of the second quarter and two triples in the second half to erase a 14 point deficit.

Matt Ryan and company jumped out to a 17-3 lead through much of the first half on the strength of two electrifying touchdown passes. On the first offensive drive of the game, the Falcons offense went trips left with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas drawing the attention of the defense. Facing a single defender on the left side return specialist Devin Hester demonstrated why he is always a threat to score. Hester caught a quick slant pass from Ryan and exploded, racing past the outstretched arms of safety Ben Pollard and cornerback Tommie Campbell.

“That's something we've seen during OTAs and during training camp,” said Ryan who finished the night 18-23 for 224 yards. “When you get him out onto the practice field, everyone has been very impressed. He showed what he is capable of doing, with the ball in his hands tonight."

Like Hester, Julio Jones showed there’s nothing wrong with his wheels. After months of rehab, Jones turned a routine 6 yard slant pass into a monstrous touchdown run. Jones shook free of cornerback Coty Sensabaugh’s grasp and sprinted to the endzone aided by a huge downfield block from Douglas.

Neither play sat well with Titans safety Ben Pollard. “Two slants that got 14 points and that kills you,” said Pollard. “One of the biggest things right now, we have to learn from our mistakes. We really do. It's the third preseason game and it's continuing to happen.”

The touchdown was the last score for the Falcons of the game despite having the starters including Ryan in for the first series of the third quarter.

Tennessee’s comeback started at the end of the second. Jake Locker and Nate Washington hooked up for a 63 yard touchdown on the first play following a defensive timeout by the Falcons.

"There's 11 guys out there, not just one giving up a big play," remarked Falcons head coach Mike Smith.

Washington’s play shifted the momentum to the visitor’s sideline. “Jake (Locker) made a good read and a good throw,” said Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. “We grew as a team from that standpoint.”

And grow they did.

The Titans reeled off two more field goals to set up the winning drive in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger led the Titans on a 9-minute, 13 play - 74 yard drive to complete the comeback. Rookie running back Bishop Sankey (Univ. of Washington) capped the drive diving across the goal line. Sankey, who finished with 44 yards on 16 carries, made it a true 7-point lead with a second dive into the endzone over the right side.

The redzone curse that has plagued the Falcons ever since the 2012 NFC Championship game against the Seahawks returned to thwart at least a potential game tying drive. With first and 10 at the 12 and 2:00 minutes on the clock, the Falcons couldn’t manage a first down let alone a touchdown. Backup quarterback Sean Renfree’s fourth and two pass intended for wide receiver Julian (not Julio) Jones went through, the rookies’ hands.

Notes of Interest

In the battle of the trenches, the Falcons offense gave up two sacks on the night and the Titans three sacks. Ryan and backup TJ Yates were each sacked once. Locker was sacked twice and Mettenberger once.

Surprisingly, both teams took care of the ball. That’s right, there were no turnovers in a pre-season game.

Tennessee Titans 24 - Atlanta Falcons 17

Photos - Jake McDonald, CORE 360 Magazine
  • Shaun Phillips leads the Titans onto the field to face the Falcons

  • The Falcons Cheerleaders pave the way for the Falcons introductions.

  • Falcons DB Desmond Trufant flies in during player introductions.

  • Jacquizz Rodgers carries the ball against the Titans defense on the Falcons first offensive drive.

  • Falcons RB Antone Smith fights for yardage against the Titans defense.

  • Devin Hester takes the slant pass from Matt Ryan 31 yards for a touchdown.

  • Jake Locker sets to throw against the Falcons defense.

  • Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers breaks contain, gets to the second level.

  • Falcons WR Julio Jones runs through the arm tackle of Titans DB Coty Sensabaugh.

  • Antone Smith prepares to deliver a huge hit on Titans punt returner Dexter McCluster.

  • Falcons LB Paul Worrilow gets through the line to make a tackle on Titans RB Shonn Greene.

  • Titans QB Jake Locker pulls the ball back as Falcons DL Jonathan Babineaux gets an arm in the passing lane.

  • Falcons MLB Paul Worrilow sacks Titans QB Jake Locker.

  • Titans TE Delanie Walker fights for yardage against the hold of Falcons defenders S William Moore and LB Paul Worrilow

  • Return man Devin Hester picks up a block against the Titans coverage at the 31 yard line.

  • Titans DL Sammie Hill sacks Falcons QB Matt Ryan.

  • Julio Jones shakes free of the grasp of Titans DB Coty Sensabaugh and runs 52 yards for a touchdown.

  • Falcons WR Harry Douglas (83) heads across field to deliver a downfield block that springs Julio Jones for a 52 yard touchdown.

  • Faithful Atlanta Falcons fans enjoy the pre-season action.

  • Falcons DB Robert Alford gets enough Jake Locker to bring the Titans QB to the turf for a sack.

  • Falcons defenders DL Malliciah Goodman and LB Paul Worrilow combine to stop Titans RB Shonn Greene

  • Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers looks in the swing pass from Matt Ryan.

  • The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders perform during a break in the action.

  • The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders perform during a break in the action.

  • The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders perform during a break in the action.

  • Titans WR Nate Washington outjumps Falcons DB Robert Alford.

  • Titans DL Jurrell Casey sacks Falcons QB TJ Yates

  • Titans RB Bishop Sankey stretches for additional yards on the tackle by Falcons LB Prince Shembo.

  • Falcons DL Ra'Shede Hageman swallows up Titans QB Zach Mettenberger for a sack.

  • The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders perform during a break in the action.

  • Titans RB Bishop Sankey squirts threw a hold in the Falcons defense.

  • Falcons DB Kemal Ishmael corrales Titans RB Bishop Sankey short of the endzone.

  • Titans TE Chase Coffman goes airborne but not before Falcons DB Kemal Ishmael grabs a hold.

  • Titans RB Bishop Sankey dives over the goal line for the two-point coversion.

  • Falcons WR Geraldo Boldewijn makes a leaping grap in front of Titans DB Micah Pellerin.

  • Falcons WR Geraldo Boldewijn runs down to the Titans 12.

  • The Titans coaching staff awaits the announcement from the referee after a flag is thrown on the Falcons 4th and 2 yard pass play at the goal line.

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