GREEN BAY – The Packers' defense rose to the challenge of containing All-Pro running back Derrick Henry during Thursday night's showdown with Tennessee.
But the Titans found a suitable Plan B behind quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the passing game during a 27-17 victory over Green Bay in front of 77,506 at Lambeau Field.
Henry was held to just 87 rushing yards on 28 carries (3.1 yards per rush), with his longest carry going for just 9 yards. Tennessee's 2.75 yards per carry overall was the top defensive mark posted by the Packers in a game (min. 30 att.) since they allowed 64 yards on 33 carries (1.94 avg.) vs. Detroit on Nov. 6, 2017.
However, Tannehill completed 22-of-27 passes for 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception en route to his highest passer rating of the year (127.3). Henry also threw a TD pass on a trick play off a direct snap in the third quarter.
"We had a great plan coming in to stop the run," cornerback Jaire Alexander said. "We just had a lack of communication on some plays as far as in the passing."
Henry wasn't able to get much going on the ground, with the Packers using a variety of schemes to limit the 6-foot-4, 247-pound running back's production. That included a base package with four defensive linemen and inside linebacker Quay Walker playing the edge opposite an outside linebacker.
It largely worked. Although Tennessee scored on its opening drive, the Packers forced a three-and-out on the Titans' next possession after Preston Smith and Quay Walker combined for a sack of Tannehill.
Even when Tennessee put together a 10-minute drive in the second quarter, the Packers' defense stayed mentally tough on fourth-and-1 from its own 4-yard line. Again, Walker and Smith came together to drop Henry for a 2-yard loss and the turnover on downs.
"I was pretty much in an outside linebacker role, and I know they're going to give him the ball of course," said Walker, who finished with 11 tackles and the half sack. "My main job was to come steaming off the edge and just come make the play."
Although Henry never established a rhythm on the ground, he did bust a screen into a 42-yard gain in the third quarter and completed a 3-yard jump pass for a touchdown to tight end Austin Hooper off a handoff.
Tannehill also converted several third-and-long situations to keep drives alive for the Titans throughout. He hit rookie Treylon Burks for a 43-yard pass to key the opening TD-scoring drive and connected with a wide-open Robert Woods for 32 yards near the end of the third quarter.
That five-play, 63-yard series ended with a 16-yard TD pass to Hooper that put the Titans back ahead 27-17. The defense earned two three-and-outs and even generated a takeaway off a Rasul Douglas interception in the fourth quarter, but the Packers' offense was unable to put any additional points on the board.
"We haven't been playing complementary football," safety Adrian Amos said. "Sometimes the offense is doing good and defense not doing their job or vice versa, or special teams. We gotta get all phases working good at the same time. That's really what it's been."
Cobb's comeback: Activated off injured reserve just hours before the game, Randall Cobb led the Packers with six catches for 73 yards in his return game.
The former Pro Bowl receiver had explosive plays of 24 and 28 yards on both of Green Bay's touchdown-producing drives, which double as the offense's longest plays of the evening.
"I think it was huge having his experience, having his energy and having a player of his caliber out there is definitely big for our offense," said receiver Christian Watson. "Obviously, you saw it tonight. He was making plays. We were relying on him. He was a crucial part of our offense."
Cobb missed a month after injuring his ankle against the New York Jets last month. Fortunately, the injury was not season-ending and Cobb was cleared to return after the four-week minimum stay on injured reserve.
"I felt great," Cobb said. "I'm here now and I put everything into preparing myself to get back as fast as I could. I'm ready."
See scenes from the Thursday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field on Nov. 17, 2022.
No margin for error: Green Bay still has two more road contests before finally arriving at the Week 14 bye, beginning with the one-loss Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
At 4-7, the Packers' locker room knows what's at stake from here on out.
"You gotta play every week like it's a playoff game," Amos said. "You gotta be on it. That's just how it goes. Margin for error is small. It's already small. It's the NFL. But we put ourselves in this situation. Nobody else did. It's our job to fight our way out."
Halftime honor: The Packers honored recently enshrined Pro Football Hall of Fame safety LeRoy Butler with a special halftime ceremony, highlighted by the unveiling the four-time All-Pro's name on the stadium façade.
After the festivities, Butler even did one more ceremonial Lambeau Leap.
"That was great because when you see that, what's the best celebration of all time?" Butler said. "When people start listing all the celebrations, it's one guy doing something. This celebration is with the fans and that's amazing."