The Titans grinded and grinded to stay close to the Chargers all day long and then asked their quarterback to provide something a little more exciting in the final minutes to pull out a victory over the Chargers.
Jake Locker provided it. Locker completed seven-of-nine passes on Tennessee’s final possession of the game, moving them 94 yards in 1:50 to grab a 20-17 lead with 15 seconds left to play. The scoring blow came on a 34-yard pass to the rookie Justin Hunter and the Titans held on after the Chargers tried a cavalcade of laterals that did not wind up being the second coming of the Music City Miracle.
Locker finished the day 23-of-37 for 299 yards and he ran for 68 yards and a touchdown, but the story of the day would have been Tennessee’s inability to move the ball well enough to convert time of possession into points. The Titans ran a lot more plays in the second half, but a missed field goal and misfires on third down had kept the Chargers in front. It didn’t, though, and Locker’s final drive will rightly be the big story in Tennessee. He was accurate and made the right decisions on each play, traits that haven’t always been in evidence during his brief career.
It’s the third straight game that’s come down to the final seconds for the Chargers, who have lost two of them. Their offense looked sharp on a touchdown drive in the third quarter, but they didn’t get many more chances as the Titans held possession of the ball for the lion’s share of the second half. Coach Mike McCoy will likely be second-guessed for running Ryan Mathews on third-and-nine from the Chargers’ 36 with 2:25 to play because the Chargers defense had shown difficulty getting off the field earlier in the game.
And the past hasn’t given much reason to bet that Locker could beat him on a drive starting with the Titans backed up against their own goal line. The next coach won’t have that excuse.