It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it was a win for the Tennessee Titans 14-13 over the visiting Chicago Bears at L.P. Field.
The entire first half was an exercise in futility for the Tennessee offense that struggled to move the football, gaining just 146 yards in total offense on 28 offensive plays.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck struggled completing just 9 of 17 pass attempts for 146 yards through the first two quarters.
“We had a good tackle on the kickoff play and then the defense with the turnover right off the bat,” said Head Coach Mike Munchak. “They put the offense in great position but we didn’t finish the drive, and then we missed the field goal. That’s not the way you want to start on the offensive side.”
After spotting Chicago 10 unanswered points, once again it was the rookies that proved to be the difference in this win, as both touchdowns were scored by recent draft picks.
Jamie Harper put the Titans on the board with just :49 seconds remaining in the first half with a 9 yard touchdown run that capped a 10 play 80 yard drive that consumed 4:51 seconds.
Harper would finish the night with 13 carries for 36 yards and the one touchdown, his third of the preseason.
The offensive struggles would continue through the second half that saw the Titans offense gain just 74 yards through the last two quarters.
Hasslebeck completed 3 of his 5 passes during the first and only series he would play in the third quarter for 30 yards.
Rookie quarterback Jake Locker fared no better on the night, completing 2 of 4 attempts for 13 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Trailing 10-7 with 1:22 remaining in the 3rd quarter, it was another rookie who provided the play of the night while scoring the game winning touchdown.
With the Bears driving from their own 16 to the Titans 21 yard line, using 6:27 seconds in what appeared to be a game clinching drive, rookie cornerback Tommie Campbell save the game for the Titans.
Bears backup quarterback Caleb Hanie, who had driven his team down the field attempted to hit receiver Dane Sanzenbacher down the sideline, but the pass was poorly thrown and intercepted by Harris at the Titans 10 yard line.
Harris returned the interception 90 yards for the go-ahead, and ultimately game winning touchdown.
It was a big moment for the rookie.
“It feels really good,” said Campbell. “Anything you go out and make a play when you’re trying to make the team, it feels good no matter what type play it is. A touchdown feels even better I guess.”
Campbell also credited practice and preparation for his play.
“Going into the week we said that anytime we line up inside the numbers we were going to get some type of crossing routes,” said Campbell. “I just basically made a play for the ball and did my job on the play; the ball came right to me.”
Munchak was complimentary of his young player’s efforts.
“We had some young guys step up and make some big plays, which was nice to see,” said Munchak. “We didn’t do as much on offense as you like, we’ve got a lot to look at from the film and get better from.”
The Titans also received good news off the field just after the start of the game when it was reported that wide receiver Kenny Britt would not be disciplined by the NFL for his offseason legal issues.
“It’s just good to have that whole situation behind us right now,” said Munchak.
Britt was in an especially good mood in the locker room afterwards.
“I’m happy that is is resolved and it’s behind me now,” said Britt. “Now I’ve got a 100 percent of mind on football and this opening season.”
The Titans improved to 2-1 in spite of their offensive struggles, but will need more production in their final preseason contest in just five days when the travel to New Orleans to visit the Saints for a 7 p.m kickoff in the Superdome.