Not many people felt the Titans would play as well as they did Sunday, but make no mistake, the young team seemed to turn a corner in pounding the Dolphins 37-3.
The Titans defense had not played well for awhile, but finally rose to the challenge, pounding rookie QB Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins into the ground.
Linebacker Colin McCarthy scored on a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the Titans D collected four turnovers while holding Miami to three points all day.
The Titans came into the game on pace to set an NFL record for points allowed in a season, but they stymied Miami by intercepting passes by Tannehill three times and recovering a fumble by Reggie Bush to set up a touchdown.
“It was a huge win,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “It was exactly what we needed.”
The Titans (4-6) rebounded from a 51-20 defeat a week ago against the Bears that prompted owner Bud Adams to put the organization on notice. The Titans trailed that game 28-2 after one quarter; this week they led 21-0 after 16 minutes.
Chris Johnson became the first rusher to gain 100 yards against Miami in the past 23 games, ending the day with 126 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.
Tannehill’s six-week streak without an interception ended at 107 passes when Akeem Ayers deflected a throw to McCarthy, who sprinted along the sideline to score for a 21-0 lead. McCarthy had just returned to the game after he aggravated a lingering ankle injury.
“I just needed to settle down a little bit,” he said. “I got turned a little bit. I just had to take a couple plays off, but I got back in there.”
Tannehill went 23 for 39 but had a passer rating of only 42.4.
Jake Locker, back after missing five games with a dislocated non-throwing shoulder, went only 9 of 21 for 122 yards but threw for touchdowns covering 9 yards to Kendall Wright and 26 yards to Jared Cook.
Locker also ran for three first downs and helped Tennessee convert nine of 18 third- and fourth-down situations.
The Titans didn’t commit a turnover after totaling five a week ago, while they had an interception from each starting linebacker — McCarthy, Ayers and Zach Brown.
“That was fun to see,” Munchak said.