CLEVELAND – The Titans quest to go from good to great got off to a nice start here on Sunday.
Underdogs in a hostile environment, the Titans took the fight to the Browns in a dominating performance – a 43-13 win.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 14-of-24 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns, good for a 133.3 passer rating.
Running back Derrick Henry ran 19 times for 84 yards.
The two combined for a monstrous play in the third quarter, as Mariota connected with Henry for a 75-yard touchdown pass after the Browns had cut the lead and reenergized the crowd. The play gave the Titans a 22-13 lead with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter.
It was also a big day for tight end Delanie Walker, who caught a pair of touchdowns a year after having his 2018 season cut short with a season-ending injury in Week 1 at Miami.
An 11-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to tight end Delanie Walker made it 29-13, and then Mariota found Walker again for a seven-yard touchdown toss to make it 36-13.
And the rout was on.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler added to the flurry of scoring with a pick-6 late in the fourth quarter, and FirstEnergy Stadium emptied as the Titans moved ahead by 30 points.
Veteran outside linebacker Cameron Wake was beastly in his Titans debut, racking up a pair of sacks, including one that resulted in a safety. The sacks were No. 99 and 100 for Wake, who joined the Titans this offseason after playing his first 10 seasons with the Dolphins.
Kicker Cairo Santos was pretty good in his Titans debut as well, making kicks of 37 and 53 yards, and all his extra points.
The Browns took a 6-0 lead early on a four-yard touchdown run by running back Dontrell Hilliard, which capped an eight-play, 73-yard drive. But the Titans stiffened up on defense, shutting out the Browns the rest of the first half before taking over the game.
The Titans had five sacks and three interceptions in the contest.
When the Titans got the ball first, they answered back with a nice scoring drive of their own, which was capped off with a 37-yard field goal from kicker Cairo Santos. On the drive, Mariota completed a pair of passes to rookie A.J. Brown, including one for 47 yards.
The Titans got to Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield the next series when Wake recorded his first sack of the contest.
In the second quarter, the Titans put together a beautiful drive that produced a touchdown, and gave them the lead in the second quarter. Henry ended the 11-play, 87-yard drive with a one-yard run, which put the Titans ahead 10-6. Mariota connected with Walker on the drive, and the Titans also took advantage of some penalties on the Browns to move ahead 10-6.
Then came another sack from Wake, who tackled Mayfield in the end zone to give the Titans a 12-6 lead. Wake’s sack was set up by a 70-yard punt by Brett Kern that was downed at the three-yard line.
Santos hit a 53-yarder to cap Tennessee’s opening drive of the second half, making it 15-6.
After the Browns came back with a 61-yard scoring drive of their own — capping it off with a three-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield to tight end David Njoku to cut the lead to 15-13 — the Titans took over.
The Titans answered back with the biggest play of the game – the 75-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Henry. Guard Rodger Saffold mad a key block on the play, springing Henry loose and into open space.
After an interception by safety Kevin Byard set up the touchdown pass to Walker, and the Titans were on their way. Cornerback Logan Ryan later added his first interception as a Titan before Butler’s pick-6 late.
The Titans face the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday at Nissan Stadium.