Reliving the 10 wildest moments from Titans’ 2018 season

Erik Bacharach
The Tennessean

A look back at the 10 wildest moments from the Titans’ 2018 season, presented in chronological order:

Week 1: The whole game

A nearly two-hour lightning delay. A second two-hour lightning delay. A near brawl between the Titans and Dolphins. A laundry list of injuries. A handful of pop-up showers. A shortened halftime. A young fan who ran onto the field. Multiple kickoff returns for touchdowns. And, of course, 60 minutes of actual football that took a historic amount of time to get in on a dank day in Miami.

How’s that for a season opener?

Mike Vrabel's head coaching debut coincided with the longest game – 7 hours, 8 minutes – since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger, a bizarre marathon that yielded the Dolphins a 27-20 win only when a noon CT start morphed into "Sunday Night Football.”

Week 2: Kevin Byard goes deep

With Marcus Mariota sidelined with an injury, the Titans leaned on trickery and creativity in their 20-17 win over the Texans on Sept. 16.

It worked. The Titans faked a punt in the first quarter, and what followed – a 66-yard pass from safety Kevin Byard to rookie safety Dane Cruikshank for a touchdown – was the longest touchdown pass by a defensive player in the Super Bowl era.

"Vrabel gave me the go before the game started,” Byard said. “He told me if you get this look, don’t even think about it – don’t look to me – just call it. That’s what I ended up doing.”

Week 4: Corey Davis’ game-winner

Receiver Corey Davis’ first regular-season touchdown catch sent the 69,013 at Nissan Stadium into a frenzy on Sept. 30 as his 10-yard grab from Mariota in overtime gave the Titans a thrilling 26-23 comeback win over the Eagles.

The game-winning drive also included three fourth-down conversions, two penalties against Philly and one gamble by Vrabel – going for it on fourth-and-2 from the Philadelphia 32 with 1:17 left instead of attempting a 49-yard-field goal.

More:How Marcus Mariota led game-winning drive in OT

More:Titans' Corey Davis has breakout game in win over Eagles

Week 5: Nick Williams’ drop

On a play in the fourth quarter of the Titans’ 13-12 loss to the Bills on Oct. 7, Mariota danced in the backfield, doing everything in his power to elude defenders and extend the play. Somehow, he did, and then lofted a perfect over-the-shoulder pass to a wide-open Williams.

Williams’ drop helped cost the Titans the game. It also cost him his job. Tennessee cut the veteran wide receiver two days later.

Week 7: Going for 2

After Mariota hit tight end Luke Stocker for a 1-yard touchdown pass that brought the Titans to within a point of the Chargers with 31 seconds left on Oct. 21 at Wembley Stadium, Vrabel kept his offense on the field with no hesitation.

But the two-point try was unsuccessful, and the Titans fell to the Chargers 20-19 in London.

In the Titans’ locker room, the decision to go for it was universally lauded. The play calls in trying to convert the two-point conversion, though, drew sharp criticism outside the Titans' locker room.

On their first try at converting the two-point conversion, the Titans lined up in the shotgun, and though Mariota's pass (fired in the direction of Davis and Tajae Sharpe) fell incomplete, it drew a defensive holding penalty, moving them to the 1-yard line. On the next play, Mariota was under center and dropped back to pass. He threw a slant over the middle to Taywan Taylor, who dropped a wide-open pass earlier and had this one tipped.

REXRODE:Did Mike Vrabel blow it by going for 2 in Titans' loss to Chargers?

Week 9: Kevin Byard’s celebration

When the Titans desperately needed a spark, Byard delivered emphatically.

After intercepting Dak Prescott in the end zone in the first quarter of the Titans' 28-14 win against the Cowboys on Nov. 5 at AT&T Stadium, Byard raced to midfield, where he raised his arms on the Dallas star logo — an homage to Terrell Owens' touchdown celebration in 2000 — before he began dancing as teammates joined him.

The celebration, which came with the Titans trailing by two touchdowns, prompted the NFL to fine Byard more than $10,000.

“It was worth it,” he said with a smile.

Week 12: Luke Stocker’s stumble

The lowlight of the Titans 34-17 loss to the Texans on Nov. 26 was a failed conversion on fourth-and-inches from the 3-yard line in which the Titans handed off to Stocker, who lined up at fullback on the play. Stocker's first career carry went for no gain.

On the very next play, Texans running back Lamar Miller broke a 97-yard touchdown run, giving Houston a 21-10 lead and completely shifting the game's tone. It was the longest run by an opponent in Titans/Oilers franchise history.

Week 13: Comeback vs. Jets

In the Titans' 26-22 win over the Jets on Dec. 2, Mariota and the offense needed just six plays and 70 seconds to cover 86 yards for the winning score, an 11-yard touchdown pass to Davis. The drive also included a 25-yard scramble by Mariota in which he barreled over multiple Jets defenders and recovered his own fumble.

It was the 12th game-winning drive of Mariota's career. The Jets had scored the game's first 16 points.

Week 14: Derrick Henry’s 99-yarder

It was so awe-inspiring, so rare, that it was featured on the top 10 of “SportsCenter” on Dec. 6 … 10 different times… from 10 different angles.

Derrick Henry’s 99-yard touchdown run pretty much demanded it.

The historic run, which took 18 seconds to unfold and came in the second quarter of the Titans’ 30-9 win over the Jaguars, tied former Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett’s 99-yard run in 1983 for the longest in NFL history. The difference? Henry’s featured three emphatic stiff-arms.

More:After Titans' Derrick Henry runs all over Jaguars, 'Madden' increases his stiff-arm rating

Week 16: Taylor Lewan vs. Josh Norman 

Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan got into a postgame altercation with Redskins cornerback Josh Norman on the Washington sideline after their game on Dec. 22 because, well, let Lewan explain.

“Listen,” Lewan said, “the whole thing was, (Norman) pulled on Derrick (Henry’s) leg. Derrick said he didn’t think he was hurting him. I saw the play. I’ve never seen somebody tackle somebody on the ground and gator-roll like that or whip him around. And I went and said something to (Norman) on his sideline after the game."

Lewan then mocked Norman with a bow-and-arrow-celebration. Norman, who was sitting on the bench after the Titans had won 25-16 to eliminate the Redskins from playoff contention, got up, threw his helmet at Lewan, slapped his arm, and got in his face before the scuffle was broken up.

"Was it disrespectful? Yes," Lewan said. "Was it meant to be disrespectful? Yes."

Reach Erik Bacharach at ebacharach@tennessean.com and on Twitter @ErikBacharach.


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