Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young (16) watches the ball before catching it after a pass was tipped by players in the end zone in the final moments of the fourth quarter at an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans.
Associated Press Enlarge
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Call this one Music City Mayhem.
The Tennessee Titans are winless no more after an unforgettable overtime victory over the Detroit Lions featuring an endless stream of big plays and some suspect officiating.
Rob Bironas kicked a 26-yard field goal in overtime, and the Titans stopped backup quarterback Shaun Hill on fourth-and-1 at the Tennessee 7 to finally pull out a 44-41 win Sunday.
The Titans (1-2) blew a 20-9 halftime lead in a game featuring huge scoring swings. They became the first NFL team to score five touchdowns of 60 yards or longer in a single game.
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 since at least 1983, according to STATS LLC.
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."
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 penalty apparently was marched off from the Detroit 44 instead of 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.
Tennessee Titans kicker Rob Bironas (2) kicks a 26-yard field goal in overtime to defeat the Detroit Lions 44-41 at an NFL football game on Sunday.
Associated Press Enlarge
Players from both teams met in the middle of the field talking and shaking hands before an official finally announced the game was over.
The game featured six plays of 46 yards or longer, with the Titans having five of those — all 61 or longer. The Titans even had three of those 71 yards or longer.
Hill's 46-yard TD pass to Titus Young off a ball Titans linebacker Akeem Ayers tried to knock down at the end of regulation tied the game only after some more confusing officiating.
After Hill tossed a 3-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson with 18 seconds left, Amari Spievey recovered Detroit's onside kick. Hill threw a short pass to the sideline to Nate Burleson who took at least a step before losing the ball when hit by Titans cornerback Jason McCourty.
An official threw down his bean bag, indicating a change of possession. Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner picked up the ball and started to run to the end zone before another official ran up and called it incomplete.
Because it was in the final 2 minutes, a review is left up to the officials and coaches cannot challenge. No replay review was done.
Officials had other issues in this game, including twice announcing the offense would replay third down when it was obvious the defense wanted to decline a penalty to force fourth down.
Shades of the most famous play in Titans history, the Music City Miracle to lift them past Buffalo in a January 2000 playoff game, Tommie Campbell caught a lateral on a punt return and ran it 65 yards for a TD in the first quarter for Tennessee. Jared Cook caught a 61-yard TD pass from Jake Locker in the second period as the Titans went up 20-9 at halftime.
Darius Reynaud set a Tennessee record returning a kickoff 105 yards to tie it at 27. Ayers then sacked Stafford, forcing the Lions to punt, and Locker found Nate Washington, who plucked the ball from behind cornerback Jacob Lacey's back and ran 71 yards for the go-ahead TD with 3:11 left.
Verner grabbed the ball from Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew and ran it 72 yards on the play Stafford pulled up limping as he chased the cornerback. That seemed like the clinching TD with 1:16 left in regulation and only wound up setting the scene for more chaos.
Locker finished 29 for 42 for 378 yards and two TDs. Stafford went 33 of 42 for 277 yards and a touchdown.
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