Former University of Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson made six tackles before exiting early in the fourth quarter of the Tennessee Titans’ 16-15 victory over the Detroit Lions with a back injury.
Fellow ex-Cat Wesley Woodyard added three tackles to help the team improve to 1-1. Williamson has 12 tackles through two games, and Woodyard has six.
The Titans’ defense has only allowed one touchdown through two games. Perrish Cox sealed the win with an interception of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford with 18 seconds left.
“That was huge for Perrish,” Williamson said. “I was so happy for him. I think that just shows our defense never gives up, and that has been our mindset since last year.
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“When things don’t go your way you have to keep fighting. We kept fighting, and we came out victorious.”
The Titans are already a third of the way to last season’s victory total, thanks to Marcus Mariota’s poise in the fourth quarter.
Mariota’s 9-for-9 performance on the winning drive Sunday was an encouraging step for the second-year quarterback, who is trying to help the Titans improve on a three-win season in 2015.
Mariota’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson with 1:13 left lifted Tennessee to a 16-15 win over the Lions.
The winning TD came on fourth down.
“I just think we learned some lessons about ourselves,” Tennessee Coach Mike Mularkey said. “They finished a game and they did it on the road. A lot of circumstances were tough at the end there and I was really proud.”
Mariota competed every pass he attempted during a 13-play, 83-yard drive for the winning points. The Lions, meanwhile, wasted a nice opportunity a week before playing at Green Bay.
Detroit (1-1) was coming off a season-opening win at Indianapolis, but the Lions blew a 15-3 lead in the fourth quarter Sunday.
They also committed 17 penalties for 138 yards. Tennessee was flagged 12 times in a sloppy, disjointed game .
“We need to stop with the infractions, plain and simple,” Lions Coach Jim Caldwell said. “That’s my job. I'll get those guys straightened out in that area.”
Tennessee (1-1) returns home for what figures to be a winnable game next weekend against Oakland. The Titans also have Cleveland and Miami on the schedule next month.
Of course, fans of those teams probably look at Tennessee much the same way — as a chance to pick up a win. The Titans were far from perfect Sunday, and they could have been blown out if it weren’t for Detroit’s penalties and mistakes.
“We needed something,” Mularkey said. “We were really chugging, but we weren’t gelling like we needed to until those last couple drives that we needed.”