On an otherwise completely forgettable night for Stephen Gostkowski, the newest kicker for the Tennessee Titans made the one kick that mattered most to lift his team to a win over the Denver Broncos on Monday night.
Gostkowski had missed four total kicks on the night as the Titans found themselves trailing the Broncos 14-13 inside the final minute of play. The lost 10 points saw the Titans needing a shaky Gostkowski to deliver a game-winning kick to avoid a loss to open their season. But Gostkowski responded and slammed home a 25-yard attempt with 17 seconds remaining to life Tennessee to a 16-14 victory.
Gostkowski had missed field goal tries from 47 and 42 yards and had a third attempt from 44 yards blocked by Shelby Harris. He also missed an extra point in the fourth quarter prior to the game-winner. Gostkowski had never missed more than two kicks in any game in his 14 seasons with the New England Patriots before signing with the Titans last week.
Derrick Henry rushed for 116 yards on 31 carries for Tennessee and Corey Davis caught seven passes for 101 yards to lead the receiving corps. Ryan Tannehill was 29 of 43 for 249 yards and two touchdowns for the Titans.
Titans linebacker Rashaan Evans was ejected in the first quarter for throwing a punch at Broncos tight end Jake Butt. Two plays later, Drew Lock found tight end Noah Fant for a 9-yard touchdown as Denver took a 7-0 lead.
Then it was Denver’s turn for a mistake to help set up an opposing touchdown. Melvin Gordon lost a fumble after Titans safety Kevin Byard dislodged the football from his grasp. Jeffery Simmons recovered the loose ball for Tennessee at the Denver 23-yard line. MyCole Pruitt caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill five plays later to even the game at 7-7 after Gostkowski’s only successful kick of the evening.
Two straight Titans possessions would end in unsuccessful field goal attempts as they were unable to grab a share of the lead despite outplaying the Broncos. Tennessee would finally finish off a drive with Jonnu Smith catching a 1-yard touchdown from Tannehill to take a 13-7 lead. However, a Gostkowski missed extra point would keep the lead at just six.
That would prove significant as the Broncos responded with a scoring drive of their own to take the lead. Denver would cap a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run from Gordon to grab a 14-13 lead after a successful Brandon McManus extra point.
The Titans would get their final chance with 3:05 left to play. Tennesee would march 67 yards on 12 plays as the clock ticked away before giving Gostkowski the chance at the game-winner.
Lock completed 22 of 33 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown for Denver. Gordon rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown. Fant caught five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.