NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans finally got a much-needed sigh of relief Sunday. Actually, two: They have a reliable kicker, and that eight-game skid going back to last November is over.
Nick Folk kicked a 41-yard field goal in overtime in a sudden downpour and the Titans beat the Los Angeles Chargers, 27-24.
“I get to put the cherry on top,” the 16-year veteran kicker said of his 13th game-winning field goal and 12th in the regular season.
The Titans (1-1) hadn’t won since Nov. 17 in Green Bay last season, a skid that cost them a third straight AFC South title. On Sunday, they had to rally in their home opener from an 11-point deficit where the Chargers had more points than Tennessee had yards (8).
“We needed it,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said.
Ryan Tannehill rebounded from the worst game of his career in the opener by throwing for 246 yards and put Tennessee up, 24-21, with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. He also ran for a touchdown and started the game-winning drive with a 49-yard toss to Chris Moore.
“Obviously wanted to come back and play well today after last week, so excited to be able to do that,” Tannehill said. “Felt great to be back out there and be able to pull out the win at the end, so made it a lot of fun.”
Derrick Henry had 80 yards and also ran for a touchdown.
The Chargers (0-2) are mired in their first winless start since 2017, when they lost their first four games in their first season in Los Angeles.
Justin Herbert threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns to Keenan Allen. With the ball and 2:22 left in regulation, he was sacked by Harold Landry forcing the Chargers to settle for Cameron Dicker’s third field goal of the game to force overtime.
The Chargers won the coin toss, but Herbert threw three straight incompletions as Tennessee forced just its third three-and-out of the game.
“We had a tough time protecting the passer today and just didn’t do well enough in that phase to give us a chance to earn overtime,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said.
The Chargers have lost five games under Staley when leading by 10 or more, tied for second most in the NFL since 2001. Only Baltimore (six) has more in that span.
“We’re not where we want to be right now, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get there in a couple of weeks,” Herbert said.
Both teams played without key starters because of injuries. For the Chargers, running back Austin Ekeler (ankle) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (hamstring), their biggest offseason addition, were sidelined. Los Angeles at least had linebacker Joey Bosa active after he had been questionable with an injured hamstring. He had two of the Chargers’ five sacks.
The Titans already declared out two starters in their secondary with safety Amani Hooker in the concussion protocol and cornerback Kristian Fulton’s hamstring an issue again. Rookie left guard Peter Skoronski, the No. 11 pick overall out of Northwestern in April, was declared out Saturday with an illness.
Tennessee started Xavier Newman, but the Chargers ended back-to-back drives with sacks getting to Tannehill untouched. Dillon Radunz, who tore an ACL last December in a loss to the Chargers, took over in the second quarter.
Tannehill got Tennessee’s offense going by hitting Treylon Burks with a perfectly thrown pass for 70 yards. Henry capped the quick drive with a 1-yard TD — Tennessee’s first TD of the season.
“We were leaking oil, and we needed somebody to step up and make a play,” Vrabel said. “And that was a huge play.”
Folk’s 33-yard field goal pulled Tennessee within 14-10 as the first half ended. Tannehill capped a 75-yard drive to open the third with a 12-yard TD run, a drive kept alive by the Chargers’ first two penalties of the game, both on third down.
Herbert capped an 80-yard drive with a 12-yard TD pass to Allen within the first minute of the fourth quarter.