NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 9 Game Recap: Tennessee Titans 28, Los Angeles Rams 16

Tennessee Titans running back Adrian Peterson (8) runs with the ball during the second quarter at SoFI Stadium Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021 in Inglewood, Calif. Titans Rams 068

The Los Angeles Rams‘ hot start hit a bit of a speed bump on Sunday Night Football, as Matthew Stafford & Co. lost to the Tennessee Titans 28-16 in SoFi Stadium as touchdown favorites.

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Tennessee Titans


Ryan Tannehill didn’t have to do a lot of heavy lifting in this one. The Titans passer recorded a 4.4-yard average depth of target and attempted only two passes over 15 yards downfield, with neither resulting in a completion. Tannehill completed 19 of his 27 passes for 143 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

At the end of the day, Tennessee's unexciting passing offense was immaterial because their defense took advantage of the Rams’ mistakes.

Running Back

Tennessee’s inefficiency wasn't exclusive to the passing game on Sunday night, as the Derrick Henry-less backfield also struggled to run the ball effectively. Adrian Peterson, Jeremy McNichols and D’Onta Foreman combined for only five runs of five-plus yards on 22 attempts, which tied for the fewest from a Titans offense since the start of 2019.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

The Titans wide receiver room combined for only six total first downs receiving on the night — three from A.J. Brown, two from Julio Jones and one from Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. Only one of Brown's first downs came against All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey, which came late in the fourth quarter.

Brown also dropped a couple of passes, which won't do his box score any favors. He averaged 1.50 yards per route run overall.

Tight end Geoff Swaim has never been heavily utilized as a receiver for Tennessee, but he had his most productive game as a Titan on Sunday night. He caught four passes on nine routes for 29 yards and a touchdown. He entered the week with only four first downs or touchdowns on the season and had three tonight alone.

Offensive Line

Bobby Hart replaced Taylor Lewan, which was a little bit of an issue for Tennessee. Hart ended up with a poor pass-blocking grade on first review, as he allowed five total pressures on 30 opportunities  — two sacks, one hit and two hurries. 

Defensive Line

Interior defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons had a big night. Along with a couple of run stops, Simmons totaled eight pressures in L.A., three of which were sacks. This led him to what is likely to be his highest-graded game of the 2021 season.


David Long was the top linebacker in this matchup thanks to his performance against the pass. He came away with two hurries, an interception, a forced incompletion and a passing stop.


Safety Kevin Byard entered Week 9 as one of the highest-graded safeties in the NFL, and he sustained that elite-level play in this one. Outside of garbage time, he made no mistakes in either facet. He tacked on a pick-six early in this contest to give him his fifth interception of the season.

Rookie Elijah Molden was the defensive back of choice for the Rams. He saw seven targets overall and allowed all seven to be caught for 83 yards. While he did force a couple of stops, Molden was responsible for five of Tennessee’s 15 first downs allowed in coverage.

Los Angeles Rams


No team entered Week 9 with a more efficient passing offense than the Los Angeles Rams. They had generated positive expected points added (EPA) per pass in every game and were yet to record a successful pass play below 50%.

Unfortunately, that passing offense was nowhere to be seen on Sunday night, as Matthew Stafford and the Rams generated -0.39 EPA per pass and a 43.1% successful pass rate. Stafford recorded three turnover-worthy plays and struggled in the true dropback passing game.

Matthew Stafford on true dropbacks vs. Tennessee (not including garbage time)

Comp/Att 15/25
Yards (YPA) 139 (5.6)
TD:INT 0:2
Passer Rating 41.9
Sacks 5

Back-breaking turnovers were the driving factor in this upset loss. Off-nights happen, and this was the first notable one of the Rams' season from a passing perspective. 

Matthew Stafford: Passing performance under pressure

Comp/Att 3/12
Yards (YPA) 29 (2.4)
TD:INT 0:1
Passer Rating 4.9
Sacks 5
Running Back

Darrell Henderson enjoyed modest success against the Titans, while Sony Michel was a non-factor. Henderson was responsible for two runs of 10-plus yards across 11 carries, and Michel didn’t have any on seven attempts. Those two ended up leading the Rams to a 31.6% successful run rate on running back carries for the game, the second-lowest mark of their season.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Cooper Kupp was largely ignored on his deep routes against Tennessee and was mostly fed underneath. He managed only one explosive reception of 15-plus yards despite catching 11 passes overall. It’s hard to blame him for that, though, as Kupp did catch all of his catchable targets for the game, six of which ended up moving the chains.

Robert Woods was the only other pass-catcher in the Rams offense to generate more than 1.0 yard per route run. He didn’t catch as many passes, but he was the go-to man downfield. He hauled in three of his four targets over 10 yards downfield for 51 yards (Stafford only had five such completions for the game).

Offensive Line

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is on the cusp of turning 40 and is still performing at a high level. He didn’t lose a single rep all night long for the Rams while protecting Stafford’s blind slide.

Everyone else along the Rams’ line lost at least three reps in total. Center Brian Allen was the lowest-graded player of the group in pass protection on first review — on his 30 true pass sets outside of garbage time, Allen allowed two hurries and one sack while losing another rep.

Defensive Line

The Rams’ pass-rush did about as well as they could, considering how quickly Ryan Tannehill got the ball out. On average, Tannehill got the ball out in 2.24 seconds. On blitzes, that average dipped down to 1.97 seconds (12 such dropbacks). The unit as a whole still managed to disrupt Tannehill on a third of his dropbacks, bringing him down to the ground on three while playing a part in his interception on another. 

To no surprise, Aaron Donald led the team with a 22.6% pass-rush win rate, though a few others weren’t too far behind.

Rams Top Pass-Rushers vs. Titans

Player Pass-Rushes Sacks/Hits/Hurries Win %
DI Aaron Donald 30 1/0/2 22.6%
Edge Leonard Floyd 27 2/0/1 17.2%
Edge Terrell Lewis 17 0/0/3 17.6%
Edge Ogbonnia Okoronkwo 9 1/1/0 18.2%

Troy Reeder and Ernest Jones came away with uninspiring coverage grades on first review. Reeder was responsible for only seven yards on 20 coverage snaps, but he had some downgrades elsewhere, including a missed tackle. As for Jones, he allowed four receptions on 19 coverage snaps for 25 yards and a touchdown.


Jalen Ramsey was once again the star of the Rams secondary with his silky smooth interception early on. 

Ramsey proceeded to allow only 24 yards in coverage for the game but did commit a couple of penalties for unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct.

Jordan Fuller was also a notable performer for L.A. The 2020 sixth-round pick worked from the box, slot and deep, and he ended up allowing only 13 in coverage. Fuller forced an incompletion and racked up three total passing stops.

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