Saturday's NFL: Gabbert keeps Tennessee's hopes alive
Nashville, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans finally have a victory in a game where quarterback Marcus Mariota left injured, and Blaine Gabbert did much more than just win.
Gabbert kept the Titans’ playoff hopes alive.
The veteran threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to MyCole Pruitt with 4:30 left and the Titans rallied to beat Washington 25-16 on Saturday for their fourth straight victory.
“I don’t know,” Gabbert said when asked if this was the biggest win of his eight-year career with four teams. “It was a fun win. We got a big game next week.”
The victory was Tennessee’s first in the seven career games that Mariota has left with an injury.
Coming off the bench for the third time this season, Gabbert threw for 101 yards after Washington knocked Mariota out of the game late in the first half with a stinger. Gabbert hit Taywan Taylor for 35 yards to jump-start the winning drive, Derrick Henry ran four times for 33 yards, his last an 18-yarder to the 2. Gabbert then hit Pruitt at the back of the end zone.
The Titans (9-6) must beat Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts and have either Baltimore or Pittsburgh lose once to earn the AFC’s second wild-card spot for a second consecutive playoff berth.
“The only scenario that any of us are smart enough to worry about is us preparing to win and ultimately win, and that’s all we can do right now,” first-year Titans coach Mike Vrabel said.
Safety Kevin Byard intercepted Josh Johnson’s pass on third-and-3 with 1:17 left. Then Malcolm Butler picked off a pass as time expired and ran 56 yards for an emphatic TD.
Washington (7-8) has lost five of six, and coach Jay Gruden said the team couldn’t ask for anything more from quarterback Josh Johnson, who came off his couch only weeks ago. Washington needs losses by Minnesota and Seattle to avoid being eliminated.
“I’m just very proud and sick for the way it ended for him tonight because he really just played (great), displayed great courage, leadership all in three weeks,” Gruden said. “I hate for him to be judged on that one pass (Byard’s interception), but overall just very, very proud of the way he came in here and led this team.”
Mariota had thrown for 110 yards when sacked with 48 seconds left in the first half by defensive end Jonathan Allen. His right, throwing shoulder and arm were examined, then he walked to the locker room and was replaced by Gabbert.
The stinger is the same injury that knocked him out of Tennessee’s loss Nov. 18 at Indianapolis. He also was knocked out of the season opener with an elbow injury that cost him a start. Vrabel said Mariota was still being evaluated after the game.
Byard said the Titans have full trust in Gabbert.
“It’s really no panic on the sideline,” Byard said.
Henry finished with 84 yards and a TD on 21 carries.
Johnson threw for 153 yards and a TD. Dustin Hopkins kicked field goals of 50, 40 and 46 yards, and Washington finished with three sacks.
The fourth quarterback to start this season for Washington this season, Johnson drove Washington on the NFL’s second-longest drive this season, taking the ball with 26 seconds left in the first quarter and then eating up 10:58 off the clock, going 98 yards over 17 plays. Johnson capped the drive with a 7-yard TD pass to Michael Floyd for a 10-6 lead.
Baltimore 22, (at) L.A. Chargers 10: Lamar Jackson threw for 204 yards and had the longest touchdown pass of his brief career, and the Baltimore Ravens strengthened their chances of clinching a playoff spot.
The Ravens (9-6) — who have won five of their last six with Jackson as the starter — dominated for most of the night to remain in possession of the last wild-card spot. They briefly trailed 10-6 early in the third quarter before Jackson completed a 68-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews.
Justin Tucker’s third field goal extended the lead to six and they put it away late in the fourth quarter when Patrick Onwuaso forced Antonio Gates’ fumble and Tavon Young returned it 62 yards.
Jackson, who was the 32nd overall pick in April, had his first 200-yard passing game, completing 12 of 22. He had come into the game averaging 146.2 yards in the previous five games. Gus Edwards had 92 yards on 14 carries, and Jackson had 39 yards on 13 carries.
The Ravens’ defense, which came into the game as the top-ranked unit in the NFL, frustrated the Chargers most of the night. Philip Rivers — who was 23-of-37 for 181 yards — was sacked four times, threw an interception and didn’t have a touchdown pass for the first time this season.
Melvin Gordon, who missed the past three games due to a knee injury, had 41 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Los Angles (11-4) has clinched a playoff spot, but its hopes of winning the AFC West suffered a major blow. Kansas City can wrap up the division with a win on Sunday at Seattle.
Baltimore led 6-3 at halftime but the Chargers took the lead less than two minutes into the third quarter on Gordon’s touchdown from a yard out. The Ravens got the ball to start the second half but Chargers rookie safety Derwin James forced Kenneth Dixon’s fumble, which was recovered by Melvin Ingram at the Ravens 21 and returned 3 yards.
The Ravens quickly answered on the ensuing possession when tight end Andrews split safeties Adrian Phillips and Jahleel Addae, taking Jackson’s pass 67 yards. They made it 16-10 on their next possession on a 56-yard field goal by Tucker — his league-leading 38th field goal of 50-plus yards.
The Chargers got the opening possession but promptly turned it over when Rivers’ pass was intercepted by Brandon Carr on a throw intended for Mike Williams on the first play. The Ravens converted the turnover into three points on Tucker’s 24-yard field goal. The big play of the drive was a 43-yard run by Edwards — the longest rushing play the Chargers have allowed this season.
Baltimore made two more trips to the red zone in the first half, but could only muster Tucker’s 35-yard field goal. On the Ravens’ third drive, they got as far as the 2, but Jackson was incomplete on a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 3.
Los Angeles got to 6-3 late in the second quarter on Michael Badgley’s 38-yard field goal.