Down by 12 points halfway through the third quarter, many NFL teams would become one-dimensional on offense, turning to their passing game to try to catch up.
Not the Tennessee Titans.
After Minnesota rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson caught a 71-yard touchdown pass to give the Vikings a 12-point advantage with 8:04 left in the third quarter, Tennessee running back Derrick Henry ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries as the Titans rallied for a 31-30 victory to go to 3-0 on the season.
“We just have to answer,” Henry said. “Go out there and answer back and give ourselves a chance. We pride ourselves in winning the fourth quarter, and we just wanted to give ourselves a chance. …
“I’m happy to be 3-0, and we have to keep the momentum going.”
Henry totaled 119 yards on 26 carries in the game, giving Tennessee a 15-0 record when the former Alabama All-American rushes for 100 yards. Henry also caught two passes for 11 yards.
In Tennessee’s eight-play, 75-yard drive that started the comeback, Henry ran six times for 31 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 3:53 left in the third quarter.
Henry got another 1-yard touchdown run 2:31 of clock time later after quarterback Ryan Tannehill started the Titans’ next possession with a 61-yard completion to the Minnesota 4-yard line. Henry covered the distance to the end zone in two carries as Tennessee took a 25-24 lead with 1:22 left in the third quarter.
Minnesota took a 30-25 lead with 10:17 left in the game.
Stephen Gostkowski made field goals of 54 and 55 yards to cap the Titans’ next two possessions and provide the one-point margin of victory.
Henry had three carries for 22 yards and a 6-yard reception on the first field-goal drive and two carries for 10 yards on the second.
Henry became the fifth player in NFL history to record at least 25 rushing attempts in each of his team’s first three games in a season, joining the Buffalo Bills’ O.J. Simpson in 1975, Dallas Cowboys’ Emmitt Smith in 1994, Indianapolis Colts’ Edgerrin James in 2002 and Houston Texans’ Arian Foster in 2012.
“We trust in (Titans offensive coordinator) Arthur (Smith),” Henry said, “and we have to go out there and execute what’s called.”
Henry was among the 42 former Alabama players who got on the field on the third Sunday of the NFL’s 101st season.
Two other former Alabama players were at the Titans-Vikings game:
· Rashaan Evans (Auburn High) started at inside linebacker for the Titans. Evans made seven tackles and recovered a fumble. Evans returned the loose football 25 yards to the Minnesota 20-yard line to set up a field goal in the first quarter.
· Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. played but did not record any stats.
In the other Sunday games:
Chicago Bears 30, Atlanta Falcons 26
· James Carpenter started at left guard for the Falcons.
· Eddie Jackson started at safety for the Bears. Jackson led Chicago with seven tackles.
· Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (Foley) was designated as a game-day inactive. Jones did not practice during the week because of a hamstring injury.
· Calvin Ridley started at wide receiver for the Falcons. Ridley caught five passes for 110 yards and had a 7-yard run. Ridley’s receptions included a 63-yarder. After having two 100-yard receiving games in his first two NFL seasons, Ridley has had at least 109 yards in each of Atlanta’s three games in 2020. Ridley became the seventh player in NFL history with at least 109 receiving yards in each of his team’s first three games in a season, a list that includes teammate Julio Jones, who accomplished the feat in 2015. Also on the list are the Los Angeles Rams’ Bob Boyd in 1954, Philadelphia Eagles’ Harold Jackson in 1972, San Francisco 49ers’ Jerry Rice in 1989, Jacksonville Jaguars’ Jimmy Smith in 1999 and Pittsburgh Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2018.
Buffalo Bills 35, Los Angeles Rams 32
· Levi Wallace started at right cornerback for the Bills. Wallace made nine tackles and intercepted a pass. In last week’s 31-28 victory over the Miami Dolphins, Wallace set a career high with 10 tackles. Wallace’s third NFL interception came on the fourth play of the second quarter and gave Buffalo possession at its 34-yard line. The Bills offense went on a 66-yard drive to take a 14-0 lead after the takeaway.
· Bills running back T.J. Yeldon (Daphne) ran for 18 yards on three carries in his first action of the 2020 season. Yeldon had been a game-day inactive for Buffalo’s first two contests.
Cleveland Browns 34, Washington Football Team 20
· Jonathan Allen started at defensive tackle for Washington. Allen made a team-leading nine tackles and registered his first full sack of the 2020 season.
· Washington defensive end Ryan Anderson (Daphne) made three tackles on defense and one on special teams.
· Landon Collins started at strong safety for Washington. Collins made four tackles.
· Shaun Dion Hamilton (Carver-Montgomery) started at outside linebacker for Washington. Hamilton made three tackles on defense and one on special teams.
· Browns safety Ronnie Harrison made one tackle.
· Daron Payne (Shades Valley) started at defensive tackle for Washington. Payne made five tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
· Washington wide receiver Cam Sims played but did not record any stats.
· Jedrick Wills started at left offensive tackle for the Browns.
· Browns linebacker Mack Wilson (Carver-Montgomery) made his 2020 debut after missing the first two games because of a knee injury sustained during training camp. Wilson did not record any stats.
New England Patriots 36, Las Vegas Raiders 20
· Josh Jacobs started at running back for the Raiders. Jacobs ran for 71 yards on 16 carries and caught three passes for 12 yards even though he missed two days of practice during the week and was listed as questionable to play on the injury report because of a hip problem.
· Patriots outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings (Dadeville) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (Lee-Montgomery) was designated as a game-day inactive. A knee injury sidelined the rookie.
San Francisco 49ers 36, New York Giants 9
· Dalvin Tomlinson started at nose tackle for the Giants. Tomlinson made five tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage, and registered two quarterback hits.
Cincinnati Bengals 23, Philadelphia Eagles 23 (OT)
· Bengals cornerback Tony Brown played but did not record any stats.
· Jonah Williams started at left offensive tackle for the Bengals.
· Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts recorded his first NFL stats in his second game. Lining up at quarterback for the first time in his pro career, Hurts ran 8 yards for a first down on Philadelphia’s first possession of the second half. Hurts’ second chance didn’t go as well. He fumbled but recovered the football for a 3-yard loss.
Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Houston Texans 21
· Texans quarterback AJ McCarron (St. Paul’s Episcopal) did not play.
· Steelers defensive end Isaiah Buggs played but did not record any stats.
· Minkah Fitzpatrick started at free safety for the Steelers. Fitzpatrick made five tackles.
· Steelers center J.C. Hassenauer played but did not record any stats.
Indianapolis Colts 36, New York Jets 7
· Ryan Kelly started at center for the Colts.
· Quinnen Williams (Wenonah) started at defensive tackle for the Jets. Williams made three tackles.
Carolina Panthers 21, Los Angeles Chargers 16
· Chargers long snapper Cole Mazza handled the snaps on three punts, one field goal and one extra point.
· Chargers nose tackle Damion Square played but did not record any stats.
Detroit Lions 26, Arizona Cardinals 23
· Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake ran for 73 yards on 18 carries and caught a 6-yard pass.
· Lions defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand made three tackles.
· Dre Kirkpatrick (Gadsden City) started at cornerback for the Cardinals. Kirkpatrick made six tackles.
· Lions linebacker Reggie Ragland (Bob Jones) made two tackles.
· Cardinals safety Deionte Thompson made three tackles.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28, Denver Broncos 10
· O.J. Howard (Autauga Academy) started at tight end for the Buccaneers. Howard caught three passes for 49 yards, including a 33-yarder.
· Kareem Jackson started at strong safety for the Broncos. Jackson made six tackles.
· Jerry Jeudy started at wide receiver for Broncos. Jeudy caught five passes for 55 yards.
Seattle Seahawks 38, Dallas Cowboys 31
· Amari Cooper started at wide receiver for the Cowboys. Cooper caught nine passes for 86 yards.
· Trevon Diggs started at cornerback for the Cowboys. Diggs led the Cowboys with nine tackles. He also broke up a pass and forced a fumble. The fumble resulted in a touchback when he knocked the football away from Seattle wide receiver DK Metcalf 1 yard from finishing a 63-yard touchdown play.
· Jarran Reed started at defensive tackle for the Seahawks. Reed made two tackles, including a strip-sack. On the first play of the second half, Reed caused Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott to fumble, and Seattle ended up with the football at the Cowboys 5-yard line. Two snaps later, the Seahawks had a touchdown and a 30-15 lead.
· Cowboys cornerback Saivion Smith made his NFL debut in the game. Smith did not record any stats.
Green Bay Packers 37, New Orleans Saints 30
· Packers punter JK Scott had one punt for 38 yards.
Week 3 of the NFL season started on Thursday night with the Miami Dolphins’ 31-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Week 3 concludes on Monday, when the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Baltimore Ravens at 7:15 p.m. CDT. ESPN will televise the game.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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