The Detroit Lions will take a 1-0 record back home on Sunday as they take on the 0-1 Tennessee Titans. The meeting will be the first between the teams in four years when the Titans won in overtime, 44-41. Things are a little different now, and Jake Locker won’t be throwing for 378 yards and two touchdowns this time around.
Marcus Mariota is Tennessee’s future now. The sophomore had a solid showing in Week 1, completing 25 of 41 throws for 271 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against the Minnesota Vikings. The team fell short, 25-16, despite Minnesota starting backup 36-year-old Shaun Hill at quarterback with Teddy Bridgewater out for the year. Newly acquired Sam Bradford, the inevitable starter, was unable to immediately step in.
Rookie Tajae Sharpe had a strong debut for the Titans and was Mariota’s top target. The QB found the fifth-round draft pick seven times for 76 yards. Running back DeMarco Murray was the recipient of Mariota’s pair of touchdown throws in what was also his first game as a Titan, but he couldn’t get it done on the ground. He rushed for just 42 yards on 13 carries and lost a fumble that turned into a Vikings touchdown.
Tennessee paid for both of its mistakes. Not only was Murray’s fumble returned to the end zone by Danielle Hunter on a 24-yard run, but Mariota’s lone interception was taken 77 yards the other way by Eric Hendricks. They’ll need to tighten up in Detroit.
The Lions wrapped up Week 1 with a comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts, 39-35. Trailing by one point with 37 seconds remaining, Matthew Stafford charged his team upfield 50 yards to set up Matt Prater’s game-winning 43-yard kick. The fourth-quarter comeback was the 21st of Stafford’s career and 19th in five years, tying Tony Romo for the most in that time span.
Without Calvin Johnson for the first time in nine seasons, Marvin Jones led the Lions’ receivers with four catches for 85 yards. Running backs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick each caught a touchdown pass from Stafford and combined for 108 receiving yards. Riddick also ran one into the end zone and had 45 yards on the ground. Tight end Eric Ebron grabbed a third Stafford touchdown and totaled 46 of the quarterback’s 340 yards. Detroit’s offense didn’t turn the ball over.
Golden Tate caught just seven passes for 41 yards. Now in a game at a place he only recently begun to call home, the receiver will play against his hometown team with his family in the stands making the trip north.
"I just have one rule," Tate said, according to Titans Online. "You can cheer for the Titans, but you cannot wear Titans gear in the Lions family section. That is a no-no."
For Tate and the Lions to come away victorious, the team’s defense will have to make adjustments. Last week the team let up four touchdowns through the air and three of them went into the hands of tight ends Jack Doyle (two) and Dwayne Allen. Head coach Jim Caldwell is self-aware of the team’s issue.
"I’m sure [Titans tight end Delanie Walker] is probably smiling after he looked and watched our film from last week," said Caldwell, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Walker was only targeted five times last week, but could see a larger role if the Lions’ secondary doesn’t hold up.
How to Watch Titans vs. Lions on Sunday
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit
Announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein
Online Streaming: Sunday Ticket