The Tennessee Titans capitalized on two fumbles and held off a late rally by the Vikings (4-1) to improve their preseason record to 2-2 on Thursday night.
Marcus Mariota hit Harry Douglas on a short crossing route that the receiver was able to turn up field and race 59-yards for the score to give the Titans a quick 7-0 lead. Mariota was 2/3 for 74 yards and a touchdown in one series of action.
Third string quarterback Taylor Heinicke got the start for the Vikings and played the entire game going 27/41 for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Heinicke is hopeful his solid showing was enough to earn him a spot on the 53-man roster.
Mike Zimmer (8-1) lost a preseason game for the first time in his two years as a head coach. The miscues for the Vikings started on the their first offensive possession when Stefon Diggs fumbled as he reached for a first down on 3-and-4 from the Vikings 19 yard line. Seven plays later, Tennessee was in the end zone again when Zac Mettenberger connected on a short 3-yard toss to Rico Richardson to build an early 14-0 first quarter lead.
The Vikings got on the board with a Blair Walsh 33 yard field with 23 seconds left in the first half cutting the lead to 14-3. Walsh was 1/2 on field goal attempts and 2/2 on extra point attempts.
Heinicke and Diggs connected 8 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. But it was Dominque Williams that caught Heinicke’s first touchdown pass with a nifty one-handed grab from out of the backfield for 14 yards.
With the score 14-10 midway through the third quarter, the usually sure handed Marcus Sherels muffed a punt after calling for a fair catch. Four plays later, Tennessee tacked on three more points thanks to a Ryan Succop 40-yard field goal.
Alex Tanney directed a nice 11 play drive that started at the Tennessee 13 yard line and ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Supernaw early in the fourth quarter. Down 24-10, Michael Mauti blocked a punt and recovered it at the Tennessee 26 yard line setting up Heinicke’s 7-yard touchdown strike to Diggs which cut the score to 24-17.
With two minutes remaining, Heinicke drove the Vikings all the way to the Tennessee 21 yard line for what looks liked the potential game winning opportunity. Unfortunately, an offensive pass interference call on Blake Renaud and a sack on fourth-and-ten ended Heinke’s heroic effort.