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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Shaun Calderon

Titans’ Harold Landry: Getting first sack was ‘such a relief’

The return of Pro Bowl pass-rusher Harold Landry was one of the most underrated storylines heading into the Tennessee Titans’ 2023 campaign.

Landry was a bona fide stud the last time he was on the field, recording 13.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback hits, and 81 tackles throughout the 2021 season (including playoffs)

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Unfortunately, the Boston College product tore his ACL just days before the team’s 2022 season-opener, resulting in him missing the entire year.

Thankfully, Landry is finally back on the field, and after a rather quiet debut in Week 1, the 27-year-old made his presence felt on Sunday when the team needed it most.

With just 20 seconds left in regulation, the Chargers trailed, 24-21, and faced a crucial third-and-3. A touchdown would’ve won the game for the Chargers, but instead, LA was forced to kick a game-tying field goal after Tennessee’s star pass-rusher came up big on what was essentially a game-saving sack.

Landry used his explosive speed and get-off to attack the inside shoulder of Chargers right tackle Trey Pipkins, immediately putting him in a disadvantageous position where he had no choice but to either ride No. 58 all the way to the quarterback or let Landry go to prevent a looping Denico Autry to crush his quarterback.

Regardless of whichever route Pipkins chose, he was pretty much in no man’s land on this particular rep, with no positive outcome in sight.

Following the game, Landry discussed the play with the media.

“I ran a game with [Denico Autry] where I was the penetrator and he was the looper and he did an awesome job setting up the guard,” he said, according to John Glennon of Nashville Post. “I did my part in getting in there and doing what I was supposed to do and I was able to get the sack.”

It was the first sack for Landry since the infamous 2021 playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, where he recorded 1.5 of the team’s nine sacks.

The Titans’ 2018 second-round pick didn’t shy away from expressing how good it felt to make his first game-changing play in over 600 days.

“It felt awesome,” said Landry. “It felt like just such a relief to get that first one under my belt. Now I’ve just got to start focusing on just improving, stacking days, and playing better and better.”

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill spent a lot of time rehabbing an injury of his own last season, which ultimately allowed him to see just how hard the Titans’ defender was working to eventually get back to his normal self.

Tannehill admitted that he went out of his way to find Landry in the locker room to congratulate him for the massive play he made on Sunday.

“I’m proud of the way he battled through,” Tannehill said. “It was a lot of fun to see him make a play there at the end in a critical situation. It doesn’t get any bigger than that, where our backs are against the wall there on defense, needed a stop in order to force it into overtime, Harold comes up huge and makes a big play.

“After everything he’s went through, all the ups and downs of rehabbing and how hard that is, to see him go out there and make a play in that critical situation, is a lot of fun for me and I know we appreciate him as a team.”

As expected, It’s clear that Landry is still shaking off the cobwebs through these first two weeks, but this was the first real flash of the disruptive playmaker who earned himself an $87.5 million contract extension.

Once the former BC Eagle is fully back to himself, it’s not an exaggeration to say he could be the missing piece that takes the Titans’ front seven from a great unit to a truly elite one.

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