NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Call this one Music City Mayhem.
The Tennessee Titans are winless no more after an unforgettable overtime victory over Detroit featuring an endless stream of big plays, some suspect officiating and a huge mistake by the Lions on the final play.
Rob Bironas kicked a 26-yard field goal in overtime, and the Titans stopped backup quarterback Shaun Hill on a fourth-and-1 at the Tennessee 7 to finally pull out a 44-41 win Sunday where the Lions messed up trying to draw the defense offside.
“Obviously, there was a miscommunication, or I don’t know what you call it, from an enforcement standpoint,” coach Jim Schwartz said.
The Titans (1-2) blew a 20-9 halftime lead in a game featuring wild scoring swings. They became the first NFL team to score five touchdowns of 60 yards or longer in a single game.
“Piece of cake,” Titans quarterback Jake Locker said with a smile.
The ex-University of Washington QB had the best game of his young NFL career, passing for 378 yards and two TDs on 29-for-42 accuracy. Detroit scored 18 straight points, then Tennessee answered with 21 points before the Lions scored the final 14 of regulation in a span of 18 seconds— the first team to do that to force OT in league history.
The touchdown that forced overtime came on a tipped desperation pass after Detroit recovered an onside kick and got an assist from the replacement officials who did not review a possible turnover.
“Both of us looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve never been through something like this in our lives,’ “ Titans coach Mike Munchak said of Detroit coach Jim Schwartz, a former colleague in Nashville. “It’s hard to put in words what to say about that. We both could’ve won in so many ways.”
Schwartz’s Lions picked up the nickname Comeback Cats last season with four rallies for victory from 13 points or more down.
“I’ve never been around one like that,” Schwartz said.
A total of 46 points came in the fourth period. Then in overtime, Bironas’ third field goal put Tennessee ahead to stay after a drive that got its own boost from the officials.
They announced a replay review had overturned their ruling of a catch by Tennessee tight end Craig Stevens, with the ball hitting the ground as he rolled after being hit helmet to helmet by Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch.
After spending several minutes discussing where to place the ball, they put it at the Lions’ 29, giving the Titans 27 yards. The personal foul penalty apparently was marched off from the Detroit 44, not the Tennessee 44, where the play started.
The Lions (1-2) lost their second straight when Schwartz decided not to let Jason Hanson kick his fifth field goal. Hill, in for injured Matthew Stafford, was stopped by defensive tackles Jurrell Casey and Sen’Derrick Marks on his sneak, and Tennessee escaped, celebrating wildly even as an official stood over the ball before a replay review was announced.
“I’m very exhausted right now,” Casey said.
The Titans had stopped Mikel Leshoure for a 7-yard reception about a foot short on third down. Schwartz said he was preparing to call a timeout to kick the field goal and wanted first to try getting the Titans to jump offside.
“The crowd was loud,” Schwartz said. “If they didn’t jump, we were just going to take the timeout. The ball ended up getting snapped. We needed that, obviously.”