Titans shut down Matthew Stafford, Rams to claim fifth straight win

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Up until Sunday night, Matthew Stafford had looked great leading the Los Angeles Rams so far this season.

Their offense was flowing seamlessly, and he helped propel them to the top of the NFC standings almost instantly.

That version of Stafford, though, didn’t show up on time on Sunday night. When he did finally get the Rams’ offense going, it was way too late.

The Tennessee Titans expertly shut down Stafford and the Rams to take a big 28-16 win — even in their first game without star running back Derrick Henry. The Titans sacked Stafford five times and picked him off twice en route to their fifth straight win.

Titans defense shuts down Stafford in second quarter

The Titans took off in the second quarter after a slow start to the night, and completely stifled Stafford in the process.

After pinning the Rams inside the 10 yard-line with a punt, David Long came up with a huge interception on a pass that Stafford was clearly trying to just throw away to avoid a safety. That pass, though, went right to Long — which set up a quick two-yard touchdown pass from Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Geoff Swaim.

Then, on the very next play, Stafford was picked off again after trying to find Robert Woods. Kevin Byard jumped in front of Woods perfectly and ran it in 24 yards for a score, which suddenly put the Titans up 14-3.

After a failed four-play drive went nowhere, Stafford led the Titans right back down with a 14-play drive he capped with a one-yard touchdown run made possible by a perfect fake they couldn’t have executed any better.

With that, Tennessee had taken full control.

Though Stafford seemed to find his groove coming out of the break, his 84-yard drive was stopped just short after a Tyler Higbee touchdown was overturned — which forced them to settle for a field goal.

They got on the board with another field goal, and started a few decent drives that they just couldn’t finish — including one midway through the fourth where the Titans stuffed Stafford and the Rams on fourth down.

Then for good measure, Adrian Peterson — who signed with the team on Monday to replace Henry, who suffered a foot injury last week — ran in a one-yard touchdown. The touchdown marked the 119th rushing score of the future Hall of Famer’s career, his first since last season when he was with the Detroit Lions.

Stafford finally found the end zone in garbage time with less than 30 seconds to go when he hit Sony Michel for a three-yard touchdown. That, though, came too little, too late. Stafford finished his night throwing 31-of-48 for 294 yards. He hit Copper Kupp 11 times for 95 yards, and found Woods seven times for 98 yards.

Tannehill finished the day throwing 19-of-27 for 143 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Peterson had 10 carries on the night for 21 yards. Though their ground game looked very different without Henry available — they had only 70 rushing yards as a team — the Titans’ defense carried them through. If they can keep that up, the Titans should be just fine without Henry for the time being.

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