In the snow, against the NFL offensive that scored the highest scores and the most productive runs back, the Green Bay Packers engineered a tournament-level effort in defense.
Mike Peten’s group kept the Tennessee Titans to just 14 points and Derek Henry returned to 98 yards during the Packers’ defeat of the Titans Sunday night at Lambo Snow Field.
Henry’s final eruption was mostly insignificant. It averaged 4.3 yards per load, had no lunge longer than 10 yards, and produced most of its yards while packers maintained a two or three point lead. Even in the favorable conditions for a big run and bruised back, Henry wasn’t a teammate, and the rookie Packers actually ended up sprinting back AJ Dillon (124 accelerating yards, two laps).
Ryan Tannehill ran 45 yards to get an abrupt touchdown reading an option to start the second half, pausing the blast, but midfielder Titans fought for most of the competition. He threw two interceptions, took two bags, and finished with just 104 yards in 26 attempts. Al-Hazm hit him five times and broke 10 of his passes.
The Pro Bowl AJ Brown receiver finished at just 43 yards, while Corey Davis had no single catch. The Titans ‘longest pass gain was only 19 yards, and it came in the fourth quarter with the Packers’ 3-point increase.
Overall, the Titans averaged just 4.7 yards per game, scored two of nine possessions, and held the ball for under 24 minutes.
Coach Matt LaFleur said he felt a different level of energy from the Packers’ defense. Midfielder Aaron Rodgers believes he was a high-quality Super Bowl performer.
It would be difficult to argue with either assessment.
The beams started quickly, forcing a pair of kicks and intercepting the possessions of the first three giants. After abandoning the landing on the cascading drives to finish the first half and start the second half, the beams offered four more stops for their ending, including another intercept and spin on landing within the red zone.
Henry loaded 23 times, highlighting the commitment of the Running Titans. But when the Packers made great headway and Henry was not producing choppy combos, the Titans’ high-throughput and crossover action disappeared.
The pressure on the player was constant and restless. Zadarius Smith had a sack, spraying pressure helped Gary intercept Darnell Savage, and Preston Smith’s pressure helped create the Chrétienne Kirksey intercept.
In high school, Savage and full-back Jair Alexander cut three assists. The Sheaves ended with two objections but could have had one or two more, including a possible six pick from Savage that was shot down.
Late in the match, Alexander broke a fourth-place pass, deflecting the Titans’ last comeback attempt.
Against the most talented and balanced attack of the schedule, the Packers rose to the challenge and introduced a choking effort. Henry never dominated the match, Tannhill never felt comfortable, and the Titans – who competed in the competition with an average of more than 31 points per game – were unable to make more than two batches to score.
Players needed to prove their ability to play a high-level defense against a high-profile opponent in 2020. Sunday night gave an opportunity, and Petén’s group checked the square.