In any sport, roster depth is essential for a team with championship aspirations. The star players still need to make plays, but role players have to step up when their name is called.
And that is exactly what happened for the Tennessee Titans on Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens.
With linebacker Jayon Brown out in the divisional round due to a shoulder injury, the Titans relied on young David Long Jr to make his first start of the season. Long stepped up and recorded six tackles. He, along with Jeffery Simmons, also played a part in the Titans’ first 4th & 1 stop. This stop helped set the tone of the game for the defense.
What a stop by the defense. Two rookies step up to make the play: Jeffrey Simmons engulfing the double team and David Long, Jr coming in to pull Jackson back short of the first. #TENvsBAL pic.twitter.com/23TyLyHDUD
— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) January 12, 2020
After the fourth down stop, Simmons continued his impressive night by scooping up a Lamar Jackson fumble late in the third quarter. That fumble essentially sealed the game for the Titans. The offense continued to roll and went ahead 28-6 about two minutes later.
Tennessee was also short on the offensive side of the ball with slot receiver Adam Humphries continuing to nurse a lingering ankle injury. To help fill this role, the Titans called on fan-favorite Kalif Raymond. He responded by catching a 45 yard bomb from Ryan Tannehill for the team’s second touchdown. This was Raymond’s only target of the game, but it was enough to lead the team in receiving yards on the night.
Receiver Corey Davis stepped up, as well. He has been quiet lately while rookie A.J. Brown has been stealing the show. Brown was held in check against New England and his struggles continued against Baltimore. Like Raymond, Davis only had one catch, but it was also for crucial touchdown from Derrick Henry to put the Titans up 21-6.
There is no word if Brown or Humphries will be ready to go in the AFC Championship game, so these players could be called upon again on Sunday. They will especially need to play to a high level on defense again in order to contain the Chiefs’ high-powered offense.
If the depth players can continue to exceed expectations while Derrick Henry runs through defenses, I think it is very possible for the Titans to beat Kansas City and advance to the Super Bowl.
PHOTO CREDIT:© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports