The Tennessee Titans finally put one in the win column in Week 12 after beating the Carolina Panthers, 17-10. The victory was Tennessee’s first and only in the month of November.
The Titans also improved their record at Nissan Stadium this season to 4-0, although this was no doubt their ugliest win at home this season, especially considering the opponent.
It looked like the Titans would run away with the game after a strong first half, but the offense stalled from there, with rookie quarterback Will Levis having a bad second half that reminded us he still has a ways to go before Tennessee can crown him “the guy” for years to come.
Thankfully, the pass-rush finally showed up and led the way on a day when the Titans needed every bit of a great effort from the defense to overcome their woes on offense.
We’ll talk about Levis, the pass-rush and much more as we go through the biggest takeaways from Week 12.
Jaelyn Duncan earned another start
Duncan certainly had some hiccups along the way, but it’s hard not to come away pleased with what we saw from the rookie in Week 12.
At the very least, Duncan showed he’s more capable than Andre Dillard, although that bar is very low. Still, the Maryland product did more than enough to earn himself another start in Week 13.
Growing pains for Will Levis
The Kentucky product struggled with consistency in Week 12. After a great first half that displayed so many of the things that have us excited for Levis, the rookie looked like one in the second half.
His issues stemmed from fundamentals and mechanics more than anything else, which led to some inaccurate throws. The good news is, those are definitely fixable.
But these are the things we need to expect from a young quarterback. The important thing is he continues to show the positives the rest of the way while also improving his negatives.
The pass-rush saves the day
What a difference a pass-rush makes.
After the group was non-existent in recent weeks, Tennessee’s front was suffocating the Panthers all game long, and if not for some boneheaded penalties (more on that shortly), the Titans might have pitched a shutout.
Arden Key notched his first sack since Week 4 and it was the biggest play of the day, as the Titans turned the turnover into points. Denico Autry showed he still has plenty left in the tank, and Jeffery Simmons flat-out took the game over in the second half.
We also have to give a shoutout to the secondary as a whole, considering the Panthers’ No. 1 receiver, Adam Thielen, was held to just one catch for two yards. However, the vast majority of the credit goes to the pass-rush.
Granted, the showing came against a terrible offense, but it was exactly what you’d expect to see and the showing was just what the doctor ordered for Tennessee to overcome a bad effort from the offense and finally get a win.
The secondary almost gave it away
While the secondary definitely deserves some praise, two of its members did their best to give this one away.
Flags against Kristian Fulton and Sean Murphy-Bunting extended both of the Panthers’ scoring drives, with SMB committing two penalties to help Carolina score its lone touchdown of the day.
Of course, SMB gets much more of a pass than Fulton, who has been an absolute disaster all season long. But those flags are just a microcosm of the issues Tennessee has had with self-inflicted wounds this season.
Not much to like about the win
In the grand scheme of things, there wasn’t a lot to be excited about when it comes to this win.
Sure, we can be happy about Duncan and the showing from the defense, but both of those performances came against a terrible pass-rush and offense.
Adding to that, the Titans once again showed how bad they are by narrowly defeating the worst team in the NFL, Levis struggled mightily for an entire half against a bad defense, and the Titans fell to a worse spot in the 2024 draft order in the process.
Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to see the Titans win a game again. But it’s hardly the kind of win that breeds optimism and excitement for the team moving forward.