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NASHVILLE, Tenn. Tennessee Titans wide receiver AJ Brown gave much-needed life to an anemic offense in the Titans’ 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Thursday night.
Brown had 11 receptions at 145 yards and a touchdown in his first game back from injured reserve.
Brown came up big for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, especially on third downs. The third-year receiver had eight receptions on third downs for the Titans. It’s the most of any player in a game over the past 30 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“I love throwing the ball to AJ [Brown], “said Tannehill.” He has a natural ability to open up. He has his size and his strength. There are some guys that they are just easy to throw at. He’s one of those guys. “
Brown accounted for 69.4% of the Titans’ receiving yards, the highest percentage of any player this season whose team threw at least 200 yards. Brown has accounted for three of the five highest percentages since last season, according to research from ESPN Stats & Information.
Tennessee had failed to score any points since the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers before Brown’s two third-down receptions at the opening of the third quarter led to a field goal. The Titans outscored the 49ers 20-7 in the second half to secure the win.
The Titans, who had lost three of four games en route to Thursday, could win their second AFC South division title in a row if the Indianapolis Colts lose to the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
“The funeral for the Titans should be yesterday or today,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “We are not dead yet.”
QB breakdown: Tannehill had a tough first half where the Titans only scored 55 total yards in offense. But he returned in the second half, and overall completed 22 of 29 passes on 209 yards and a touchdown. It was the first time he threw more than 200 yards in the last five games.
Tannehill joined Brown for an 18-yard touchdown in the third quarter. It was Tannehill’s first passing touchdown since Week 12 against the Patriots and broke a series of 102 straight passing attempts without a passing touchdown. There seemed to be a different level of confidence than Tannehill with Brown back in line. He made a couple of tight window throws and gave his receiver a chance to play down the field.
Breakout performance: Brown had his best game of the season, topping his 10-yard, 155-yard performance against the Colts in Week 7. Brown now leads the Titans in receptions (56), yards (760) and receiving touchdowns (four).
Speed games: Down by a touchdown in the third quarter, Titans safety Amani Hooker stepped in front of a Jimmy Garoppolo pass meant for Deebo Samuel. Hooker returned the interception to the 49ers’ 18-yard line. The Titans struck it out to level the game four games later.