Titans snap eight-game skid with overtime win vs. Chargers

AP photo by John Amis / Tennessee Titans kicker Nick Folk celebrates after making a 41-yard field goal to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 in overtime Sunday in Nashville. The Titans won for the first time since last November.
AP photo by John Amis / Tennessee Titans kicker Nick Folk celebrates after making a 41-yard field goal to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 in overtime Sunday in Nashville. The Titans won for the first time since last November.

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans were finally able to breathe a much-needed sigh of relief.

Actually, two: They have a reliable kicker, and that eight-game losing streak going back to last November is over.

Nick Folk kicked a 41-yard field goal in overtime in a sudden downpour as the Titans won their home opener, beating the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

"I get to put the cherry on top," Folk, a 16-year NFL veteran, said of the 13th winning field goal of his pro career.

The Titans made a trade with the New England Patriots for Folk after completing their preseason schedule without being satisfied by their options at kicker.

Tennessee (1-1) hadn't won since beating the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin on Nov. 17, 2022, a skid that cost them what would have been a third straight AFC South Division title.

On Sunday, they had to rally from an 11-point deficit after the Chargers had more points than Tennessee had yards (8) to that point.

"We needed it," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said.

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill rebounded from the worst game of his career — he was intercepted three times without a touchdown pass in last week's loss to the New Orleans Saints — by throwing for 246 yards. He put Tennessee up 24-21 with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and the quarterback also ran for a score and started the winning drive with a 49-yard toss to Chris Moore.

"Obviously wanted to come back and play well today after last week, so excited to be able to do that," Tannehill said. "Felt great to be back out there and be able to pull out the win at the end, so made it a lot of fun."

Titans running back Derrick Henry rushed for 80 yards on 25 carries, including a touchdown.

The Chargers are 0-2 for the first time since 2017, when they lost their first four games.

  photo  AP photo by George Walker IV / Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) celebrates after his touchdown run during the second half of Sunday's home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.
 
 

Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 305 yards with two touchdown passes to Keenan Allen. With the Chargers in possession of the ball and with 2:22 left in regulation, Herbert was sacked by Harold Landry, forcing the visitors to settle for Cameron Dicker's third field goal of the game to force overtime.

The Chargers won the coin toss for the extra period to get the ball first, but Herbert threw three straight incompletions as Tennessee's defense forced the visitors to go three-and-out for just the third time in the game.

"We had a tough time protecting the passer today and just didn't do well enough in that phase to give us a chance to earn overtime," said Brandon Staley, who is in his third season as coach of the Chargers.

The Chargers now have lost five games under Staley when leading by 10 or more points, tied for second most in the NFL since 2021. Only the Baltimore Ravens have more losses of that type, with six, in the same span.

"We're not where we want to be right now, but that doesn't mean that we can't get there in a couple of weeks," said Herbert, whose team was coming off a 36-34 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Both teams played without key starters because of injuries. Chargers starting running back Austin Ekeler (ankle) was out, along with linebacker Eric Kendricks (hamstring), their biggest offseason addition. Los Angeles at least had linebacker Joey Bosa active after he had been questionable with an injured hamstring; he had two of the Chargers' five sacks.

The Titans were missing a trio of starters: cornerback Kristian Fulton (hamstring), safety Amani Hooker (concussion protocol) and left guard Peter Skoronski (illness). Tennessee started Xavier Newman-Johnson in Skoronski's place, but the Chargers ended back-to-back possessions for the Titans with sacks, with the defenders getting to Tannehill untouched. Dillon Radunz took over at left guard in the second quarter.

Tannehill got the offense going by hitting Treylon Burks with a perfectly thrown pass for a 70-yard gain. Henry capped the quick drive with 1-yard run to the end zone, which was Tennessee's first touchdown of the season after being forced to settle for five field goals in the 16-15 loss to the Saints.

"We were leaking oil, and we needed somebody to step up and make a play," Vrabel said. "And that was a huge play."

Folk's 33-yard field goal pulled Tennessee within 14-10 as the first half ended. Tannehill capped a 75-yard drive to open the third quarter with a 12-yard touchdown run, with that series kept alive by the Chargers' first two penalties of the game, both on third down.

Herbert capped an 80-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Allen within the first minute of the fourth quarter, but in the extra period the Titans took control.

"This is how the NFL works," Chargers running back Joshua Kelley said. "If you're not dialed in and locked in the whole game, that's the difference between 0-2 and 2-0."

The Titans improved their NFL-best mark in games decided by three or fewer points since 2018. That's when Vrabel was hired, and they now are 17-10 in such games. Titans safety Kevin Byard noted they're usually in close games, and he was just happy with a win.

Titans tight end Chig Okonkwo went down early with an injury but returned to the game and finished with four catches for 35 yards.

Both teams are on the road next Sunday, with the Chargers facing the Minnesota Vikings and the Titans taking on the Cleveland Browns.

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