The Titans have been struggling, and it’s not because of injuries or a lack of talent. It’s the two players who provide their offense with much-needed balance: running back Derrick Henry and cornerback A.J. Brown are holding up their end of the bargain, but quarterback Marcus Mariota has fallen short in his effort to carry this team for them without help from those around him like he should be able to do as an NFL quarterback prospect. For now, all everyone is talking about is how Ramsey got into a fight with Brown after Tennessee lost Sunday night to Jacksonville — which isn’t exactly what we should be focusing on when there could actually be something worth discussing if we looked at things objectively instead of through our biases against athletes fighting each other over sports arguments that seem petty by comparison (or maybe they aren’t? I don’t know).
The “jalen ramsey” is a distraction from an undeniable truth about the Tennessee Titans. The team has been struggling to find their identity, and it seems like they are running out of time.
The Tennessee Titans are for real, and they have plenty of space to speak following their huge victory against the Los Angeles Rams on the road.
The Titans went into Los Angeles without Derrick Henry and came out with a 28-16 victory. To be honest, it wasn’t as close as the final score suggests.
Tennessee led 28-9 until the Rams scored a garbage-time touchdown with 24 seconds remaining in the game.
With a 7-2 record, the Titans seem to be in complete control. They’re a tough thrashing football team that doesn’t put up with anything on or off the field, including trash talk.
Several times throughout the game, A.J. Brown and Jalen Ramsey got into it.
While the Titans easily won the game between the lines, there were many incidents of after-game extracurricular activities. The skirmishes between wide receiver A.J. Brown and cornerback Jalen Ramsey epitomized the physical and chippy nature of the game between two heavyweight teams.
Ramsey, probably the finest cornerback in the league, jumped in front of Brown and intercepted Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill halfway through the first quarter. On the return, Brown tackled him out of bounds, and Ramsey shoved the wideout to the ground as he rushed back to the field and began celebrating.
Ramsey was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which lost the Rams 15 yards and sent them back to their own 35 yard line on a drive that could have begun on the 50. After the interception, LA could only manage a field goal.
Another time, after the play, Ramsey and Brown were spotted getting in each other’s faces, and Brown was called for a penalty after shoving the agitated cornerback.
After the game, Tennessee’s wide receiver chastised Ramsey for what he described as “dirty things” after the play.
I don’t mind the chirping, but after the play, little filthy stuff, I’m not going for it,” he told The Athletic’s Joe Rexrode. “I’m not attempting to fight anybody. But I’m not going down without a fight. If he wants to see me, he can call my number. This isn’t a threat.”
On the field, Ramsey undoubtedly won the duel.
At the conclusion of a game against the Buffalo Bills at Nissan Stadium, Tennessee Titans #11 A.J. Brown celebrates his team’s victory | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
The Titans won by a wide margin, but Ramsey may take some comfort in the knowledge that he did a good job of shutting down Brown.
Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins only grabbed 5-of-11 targets for 42 yards. He was held without a score and averaged 8.4 yards per grab. On the aforementioned interception, Ramsey got the better of Brown, jumping in front of the wideout’s sideline comeback and making a terrific interception.
Brown has caught 40 of 65 targets for 551 yards and three touchdowns this season. Ramsey has three interceptions to go along with 46 tackles, eight pass breakups, and one forced fumble this season.
Brown noted after the game, “I certainly left some plays out there.” “I simply didn’t make some of the plays today.”
Remember, the Tennessee Titans have a respectable defense.
During the second quarter at SoFi Stadium, Jeffery Simmons #98 of the Tennessee Titans reacts after his third sack against the Los Angeles Rams | Harry How/Getty Images
Ramsey put up a strong performance for LA, but it was the defenders on the opposite side of the field who stole the show.
On a night when he went 31-of-48 passing, the Titans’ defense drove Matthew Stafford into two interceptions. The Titans sacked him five times, with Jeffery Simmons getting three and Denico Autry getting 1.5.
Simmons, the Titans’ first-round draft selection in 2019, currently has 5.5 sacks, 30 tackles, and 4.5 “stuffs” on the season. He’s fast establishing himself as one of the game’s best defensive lineman. For the purpose of comparison, he has one sack less than Aaron Donald at this stage in the season.
Tennessee limited the Rams’ offense to to 4.7 yards per play and 4-of-15 third-down conversions. The Titans smothered Stafford at almost every critical moment of the game, including forcing the Rams to go 1-of-3 in the red zone. With his pick-six of Stafford, Tennessee safety Kevin Byard helped put seven points on the board.
Tennessee put up a strong showing all around, particularly given Henry wasn’t on the opposite side of the ball to manage the time and keep the Rams’ offense off the field. Even though the Titans won the time-of-possession battle by roughly five minutes, it didn’t matter.
Tennessee’s defense, anchored by Simmons, linebacker David Long Jr., linebacker Harold Landry III, and defensive end Byard, isn’t well-known nationally, but it’s a team that plays hard football and is a wonderful complement to the Titans’ offensive style.
Although they allow 23.4 points per game, the Titans’ defense is in the top ten in both interceptions and sacks so far this season. They’re paced by Byard, who has five interceptions, and Landry, who has nine sacks. At this point in the season, Myles Garrett is the only player with more sacks.
Tennessee’s defense has demonstrated that it can win team games on its own, as it did against LA.
It was the kind of victory that reverberated across the league. The Titans, who currently lead the AFC South by a comfortable margin, will be a postseason problem with or without Henry.
ESPN and Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
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