There's an old baseball adage that says you play to tie at home and play to win on the road. Mike Vrabel took that to heart.
The Titans head coach made a controversial decision in the waning seconds of their 20-19 loss to the Chargers at London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
"We're not going to second-guess the call," Vrabel. "I've got a lot of faith in our players. It just didn't work out."
Tennessee scored a touchdown with 35 seconds to play when Marcus Mariota hit Luke Stocker for a 1-yard touchdown pass to cut a lead the Chargers held since literally their first play of the game to 20-19. Instead of kicking the extra point Vrabel decided to go for two and the win.
Mariota's pass was incomplete but Casey Hayward was flagged for holding so Tennessee got another shot, this time from the 1-yard line. Vrabel again went for two and again Mariota's pass was incomplete. The head coach committed to going for two long before his offense found the end zone.
"When that drive started I thought in my mind that if we scored ... when we scored ... if there were less than 40 seconds we were going to go for two," said Vrabel. "It is was a minute and 30 seconds we were going to kick the extra point and go play defense."
Trying a pair of passes when the Titans were averaging 5.0 yards per rush in the game is likely more curious than the decision to try and win. Mariota completed 24 of 32 passes for 237 yards with a touchdown and an interception but their final TD drive covered 89 yards and 66 of them were on the ground.
Meanwhile, Philip Rivers was racking up yards with big plays. Without running back Melvin Gordon (inactive with a hamstring injury) Rivers completed 19 of 26 passes for 306 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. Both of his touchdown passes came from long range.
After Tennessee kicked a field goal on their opening drive Rivers hooked up with wideout Tyrell Williams, who exploited a busted coverage in the Titans secondary, on their very first play from scrimmage for a 75-yard touchdown. The Bolts other score came on another Tennessee miscommunication that let Mike Williams run free for a 55-yard score.
Rivers now has 17 touchdown passes and just three interceptions for the Chargers, who enter their bye week at 5-2 before taking a trip to Seattle on Nov. 4.