NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans went from being on record pace for most points allowed in an NFL season to stifling the Miami Dolphins with their best defensive performance in nearly a year.
Now they must prove that was no fluke.
The Titans had allowed at least 30 points in seven of their first nine games and an average of 34.2, which put them on target to pass the 511 points allowed by the Baltimore Colts in 1981. After a 37-3 win in Miami, they still remain on pace for surrendering the most points in franchise history.
Defensive back Jason McCourty hopes a light bulb clicked on and stays on for the rest of the season for the Titans (4-6), who visit Jacksonville (1-9) on Sunday.
"We just looked bad," McCourty said. "We looked like we weren't being coached. Guys didn't know where to be; we weren't making the plays we needed to make. But there's nothing we can do about that now. We've got six more games, and let's do our best to win all six of them and see where we are at the end."
Before the Dolphins game, the defense had been heavily criticized for the poor play, and McCourty said it made players mad.
"You can't get mad at the people saying it because they're just watching the game and calling what they see," McCourty said. "You put bad stuff on tape, and people are going to call you out for it."
They finally did something about it against Miami.
Tennessee forced a season-high four turnovers with each of the starting linebackers picking off a pass, didn't allow a touchdown for the first time since Nov. 13, 2011, and also had two sacks. The 37-3 win trimmed the Titans' average to 31.1 points per game, but they remain on track for a franchise record in points allowed at 497.6.
The turnovers helped the Titans' offense enjoy short fields and turn in a 34-point margin of victory that was Tennessee's biggest on the road since a 47-10 win at Detroit on Thanksgiving in 2008.
"Hopefully that's something we can continue to do," Titans coach Mike Munchak said.
Part of the Titans' improved play came because several key defensive players healed up: tackles Jurrell Casey and Sen'Derrick Marks and middle linebacker Colin McCarthy. Casey played with an injured right elbow, while Marks missed the first two games this season as he recovered from an injured knee. McCarthy has been trying to play through a right ankle he sprained in the opener.