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Nashville – There was excitement in the air in Nashville, Tennessee as the Tennessee Titans hosted their homecoming Sunday coming off the bye week. All the Titans’ legends were in the house and they debuted their Tennessee Oilers throwbacks as they faced the Atlanta Falcons.
Rookie Will Levis, the team’s 2023 2nd round pick, would make his first professional start against one of the NFL’s top defensive units. Mallik Willis would also spell throughout the contest in sub packages.
Willis would only total two snaps the entire game, with one of those snaps resulting in a fumble on the opening Tennessee Drive. The Falcons would take advantage and kick a field goal to go up 3-0 early.
It was the Will Levis show from there. The Titans would go on to score 14 unanswered points to up 14-3 at halftime. Levis would total 119 yards on 12/19 passing (63%) and two touchdowns in the first half.
The Falcons would bench Desmond Ridder and start Taylor Heinicke in the second half. Atlanta put some pressure on the Titans, scoring six unanswered points to cut the Tennessee lead to five.
Will Levis would answer the Titans’ second drive of the third quarter with a rainbow shot to DeAndre Hopkins down the right hashmark for a 61-yard touchdown to put the Titans up 21-9. Hopkins was Levis’ favorite target of the day and would end with four receptions on six targets for 128 yards and three touchdowns.
Atlanta would score a touchdown at the end of the third to shorten the lead to just five with a quarter to go. Titans still lead 21-16.
Tennessee would put the nail in the Falcons coffin with a nine-play, 85-yard drive that was capped off by a 33-yard shot to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine for a touchdown to make it 28-16. Atlanta would score on their ensuing drive to make the game 28-23, but the Titans would get the victory in Nashville.
Despite their starting signal caller being down and having to start a rookie, the Tennessee Titans looked like a formidable offense. Will Levis looked comfortable completing his passes on time, with good velocity and touch. He was 3/7 (43%) on passes of 20+ yards, all being touchdown passes. Tim Kelly utilized the deep ball success to spring the running game, with Derrick Henry going over 100 yards for just the second time this year.
DeAndre Hopkins had his best game as a Tennessee Titan as well. Hopkins entered the contest with no touchdowns on the season, but ended his day with three. He lined up everywhere in the formation, scoring from every receiving position. He had a touchdown from the slot, X and Z spots. The offensive line gave up only one sack and looked like a cohesive unit against one of the top five pass rushing fronts.
Tennessee’s defense played without their captain Kevin Byard for the first time in eight years. Despite his absence, the secondary looked like a much improved unit. They held the Falcons to just 5.8 yards per attempt and 58% passing. That is a large improvement for a unit that was giving up an average of 7.8 yards per attempt on 71% passing through the first seven weeks. That was partially helped by the fearsome pass rush from the front seven. They got to the Falcons’ signal callers six times and had two tipped passes.
Tennessee played one of their most complete games of the season thus far.
-Dialing It Up: Titans’ offense threw the ball deep seven times, completing three of them.
-My Time, My Shine: Will Levis shined in his debut totaling four touchdowns, becoming only the second rookie to accomplish the feat in their debut game.
-Hold The Line: The offensive line blocked very well and opened lanes for Derrick Henry.
-Luv Ya Blue!: Tennessee won in their Oilers uniforms.
-One Man Air Force: Tennessee receivers struggled outside of DeAndre Hopkins. They totaled eight receptions for 80 yards, one touchdown and three drops.
-Money Down: Titans only converted 33% (5/15) of their 3rd Downs.
-Man Down: Right tackle Chris Hubbard left game with a concussion.
Tennessee has a quick turnaround as they will travel to Acrisure Stadium to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football.