Former University of Kentucky linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson came up with back-to-back touchdown-saving stops at the goal line in the fourth quarter Sunday, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Tennessee Titans from losing their fifth straight game.
The Titans' defense held the Atlanta Falcons' offense, which came into the game ranked No. 3 in the league in scoring, to one touchdown in a 10-7 loss.
On third-and-goal from the one with 7:11 left, Woodyard stopped Falcons fullback Patrick DiMarco before he could cross the goal line.
On fourth down, Williamson intercepted a tipped pass intended for fellow former Wildcat Jacob Tamme.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Titans' offense had the ball twice afterward, but couldn't come up with a go-ahead score.
The Titans dropped to 1-5, but three of their last four losses have come by a combined eight points. The other, a 38-10 defeat against Miami, came with Williamson sidelined by a hamstring injury.
"People can say what they want, but our defense is playing as one of the best in the league right now," said Williamson of the Titans, who came into the game with the No. 3-ranked defense in the NFL. "It is very upsetting, because we should have had that game. I feel like what the defense is doing, the leadership and the tenacity we come with in practice, is carrying over to the games. And it showed today."
Williamson's interception was the first of the second-year pro's career. While the loss was disappointing, he wouldn't hold the offense responsible.
"It's tough, but we just can't point fingers," he said. "What we have to do is work and keep doing what we do on defense, the offense will do what they do on offense, and keep going."
Woodyard, who started the year as a backup but has played his way back into the starting lineup, was named a team captain for special teams last week. He has been a team captain in all eight of his NFL seasons.
Woodyard led the Titans with nine tackles on Sunday. Six were solo.
"He's been a great leader," Titans Coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That's why he's one of our captains. I think he's an unselfish guy. He's really an important part of why we are close in these games because there's a mentality that he's helping foster, along with some of our other guys. It's what's going to put us over the top. He's a valuable part of our team."
Williamson had five tackles to go with his interception. It looked like Tamme, on his back in the end zone, was going to come up with the ball before Williamson swooped in to grab it.
"I couldn't get to where I wanted to get to on the route," said Tamme, who had three catches for 36 yards. "When Matt (Ryan) turned back and threw it I was trying to make a play for him. I thought I had it. The way the ball was tipped I was staying with it and I thought I was going to catch it. I felt like I was getting ready to get it and the guy dove over the top of me. I was trying to get back to it and (Williamson) got it."