AFC South: Titus Young

Akeem Ayers is an improving player who’s a central figure in a young Titans defense.

But his roughing the passer penalty late in regulation was a crusher for Tennessee Sunday and nearly blew the game.

With Shaun Hill in his arms but the ball going, he flung the Lions’ No. 2 quarterback to the ground with 20 seconds left in regulation.

Let Hill go, and Alterraun Verner's interception in the end zone stands. The game is over. Instead, the penalty negated the pick and left the Lions room for this sequence: Touchdown pass, recovered onside kick, incompletion, Hail Mary touchdown pass.

Ayers was involved in the Hial Mary too, coming in to leap and get a hand on the pass. But he didn’t get enough of the ball to assertively knock it down, and unintentionally delivered it right to Detroit’s Titus Young who scored to force overtime. (I find no fault in Ayers here. You want to knock the ball down better. But he can’t let it go presuming defenders behind him will take care of it. If he does that and Calvin Johnson comes down with it, it’s a major gaffe.)

Had the Titans lost, the roughing penalty would have been pointed to as opening the gates and Ayers would be the talk of Nashville.

Mike Munchak said Monday the game should have ended with that Verner interception as the penalty never should have happened.

Game statisticians credited Ayers with a game-high 16 tackles. He had the Titans’ lone sack as well as a pass defensed.

I expect the second year strongside backer will come to play smarter at crucial moments and will benefit from the eventual return of middle linebacker Colin McCarthy, who’s been out since suffering an ankle injury in the opener.

Ayers should be especially grateful to get off the hook for his penalty, but his answer in the locker room to reporters was weak, and I hope he grows out of the sort of thinking it reflected.

“I don’t want to put too much on myself, at the end of the day it’s a team game,” he said. “I don’t believe personally one person can lose a game that takes 22 people to win. … I am just happy we came out with a win.”

Note to Ayers: One guy making one bad play can lose a game. It happens all the time, all around the league. Accountability isn’t a strong suit of some of the core guys on this team. You’re one of those core guys now. Feel free to take more blame than you should when you mess up, not less.

The Lions-Titans game and history

September, 24, 2012
The remarkable Titans-Lions game Sunday featured two incredible never-before-seen NFL developments.
  • The Titans became the first team in NFL history to score five touchdowns of at least 60 yards in a game in their 44-41 overtime win over Detroit: Tommie Campbell, 65-yard punt-return TD; Jared Cook, 61-yard TD reception from Jake Locker; Darius Reynaud, 105-yard kick-return TD; Nate Washington, 71-yard TD reception from Locker; and Alterraun Verner, 72-yard fumble-return TD.
  • The Lions became the first team in NFL history to score two touchdowns in the final 18 seconds of regulation to either take the lead or force overtime. Detroit quarterback Shaun Hill threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson with 18 seconds remaining and then connected with Titus Young on a 46-yard TD as time expired to force overtime.

More fun stats from ESPN Stats and Info:
  • The Titans are the second team in NFL history to score a punt-return touchdown, a kickoff-return touchdown, a fumble-return touchdown, and a passing touchdown in the same game, joining the 2002 Chiefs.
  • The 46 combined points in the fourth the quarter of the Lions (25) and Titans (21) matchup are the second-most in a fourth quarter in league history trailing only the 48 from Lions (34) and Bears (14) in 2007.

I am confident Mike Munchak will be telling his team it can’t count on five plays worth 374 yards and 35 points next week in Houston, or ever.

I am confident he’s telling them that while progress was made on offense and the Titans will take all the scoring help they can get from special teams and defense, the team can’t count on such monumental contributions regularly.

I am confident the defense will be discussing 583 net yards yielded.

It was a phenomenal day for the Titans, one to remember for sure.

But many of the elements made it one to remember were one-time kind of things, and the Titans will likely have to play better in a what are to likely be more “conventional” games going forward to get the same ultimate result -- a win.

Second-round suggestions: Colts

April, 29, 2011
Guys who could be available tonight when the Indianapolis Colts go on the clock for No. 53 overall, the 21st pick of the second round:
  • Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State -- He can be a penetrating fit in the system and add brute strength to a smallish group.
  • Titus Young, WR-KR, Boise State -- Young has fantastic speed that can help create space for the likes of Dallas Clark and Austin Collie, and he is rated as a natural pass-catcher. Is he a good enough route-runner and a fast enough learner?
  • Rodney Hudson, G-C, Florida State -- A smart, experienced and versatile interior player who would be a tidy fit. Lacks size but moves well laterally and does well with his hands. Sounds very much like a Colts guy.