Tennessee Titans (0-0) vs. Arizona Cardinals (0-0)
Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021 • Noon CDT • Nissan Stadium • Nashville, Tenn. • TV: CBS
NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans (0-0) begin the 2021 regular season this week at home against the Arizona Cardinals (0-0), marking their first time since 2017 they will play at Nissan Stadium (capacity 69,143) in Week 1. Kickoff is scheduled for noon CDT on Sunday, Sept. 12.
This is the first time the Titans and Cardinals organizations have faced each other on Kickoff Weekend. The Titans are 32-29 all-time in openers, including a current two-game win streak. They scored road victories to open the 2019 season at Cleveland and the 2020 campaign at Denver.
Additionally, this week’s opener is the Titans’ first regular season game since Dec. 22, 2019 in front of their home crowd without any pandemic-related restrictions on attendance. From that date to this Sunday, 630 days will have elapsed.
Sunday’s contest will be regionally televised on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. The broadcast team includes play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy and analyst Aaron Taylor.
Fans in the Nashville television market can livestream the broadcast on their mobile devices from the Titans Mobile App (iOS and Android), as well as on desktop computers and mobile web at TennesseeTitans.com. Restrictions apply. For more information on streaming options visit TennesseeTitans.com or NFL.com/ways-to-watch.
The Titans Radio Network and Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone will carry the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, analyst Dave McGinnis, sideline reporter Amie Wells and gameday host Rhett Bryan.
TITANS ENTER 2021 AS REIGNING DIVISION CHAMPIONS
Executive vice president/general manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel lead the team into 2021 as it looks to defend its AFC South division title and return to the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Robinson can become the only general manager in franchise history to begin his tenure with six consecutive winning seasons, while Vrabel can become just the third head coach in team annals to earn a playoff berth in three of his first four years on the job.
In 2020, the Titans finished with an 11-5 record to claim their first division title since 2008. They extended their streak to five consecutive winning seasons under Robinson, who was hired by controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk in 2016. The Titans, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs were the only NFL teams to finish above .500 in each season from 2016 to 2020.
The Titans return an experienced offensive nucleus for the 2021 campaign, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who set a franchise record with 40 combined passing and rushing touchdowns in 2020; 2,000-yard running back, 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year and two-time NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry; and wideout A.J. Brown, who reached the 1,000-yard receiving mark in each of his first two seasons. Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan anchors an offensive line that could have four of the five starters in place that it had in Week 1 of 2020.
On defense, Pro Bowl safety Kevin Byard is among the veteran leaders set to return, as is defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, outside linebacker Harold Landry III and inside linebackers Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown. Several new additions could make their Titans debuts against the Cardinals. Wide receiver Julio Jones was acquired from Atlanta in an offseason trade, joining a crop of free agents made up of fellow wide receiver Josh Reynolds, outside linebacker Bud Dupree, defensive lineman Denico Autry and cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins.
Arizona, which makes its third regular season appearance at Nissan Stadium and its first since 2013, launches its third year under head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He directed the club to an 8-8 finish in 2020, a five-win improvement from the season before he took the job.
Kingsbury’s arrival coincided with the drafting of Kyler Murray, the first-overall draft pick in 2019. Murray won the 2019 NFL Rookie of the Year Award, and in 2020, he passed for 3,971 yards and 26 touchdowns with an additional 11 rushing touchdowns.
SERIES AT A GLANCE
Overall series (regular & postseason): Cardinals lead 7-4
Regular season series: Cardinals lead 7-4
Postseason series: None
Total points: Titans 226, Cardinals 259
Current streak: Two wins by Cardinals
Titans at home vs. Cardinals: 2-4
Titans on road vs. Cardinals: 2-3
Longest winning streak by Titans: 2 (1985-88)
Longest losing streak by Titans: 3 (1970-79)
Titans vs. Cardinals at Nissan Stadium: 1-1
Last time at Nissan Stadium: CARDINALS 37 at Titans 34 (OT) (12-15-13)
Titans vs. Cardinals at State Farm Stadium: 0-1
Last time at State Farm Stadium: Titans 7 at CARDINALS 12 (12-10-17)
First time: Oilers 0 at CARDINALS 44 (11-1-70)
Mike Vrabel’s record vs. Cardinals: 0-0
Kliff Kingsbury’s record vs. Titans: 0-0
Mike Vrabel’s record vs. Kliff Kingsbury: 0-0
A TITANS VICTORY WOULD …
Give the Titans three consecutive wins in Week 1 games.
Give the Titans their first win over the Cardinals since 2009.
Improve the Titans’ all-time record at Nissan Stadium, including playoffs, to 103-79.
Improve Mike Vrabel’s career record to 32-21 as a head coach, including playoffs.
Improve Mike Vrabel’s career record to 3-1 in Week 1 games.
Give Mike Vrabel his 30th career win in the regular season.
Improve QB Ryan Tannehill’s combined starting record in the regular season and playoffs to 63-56, including a 21-10 record with the Titans
This week’s game renews a rare rivalry. Of all opponents that have been in existence since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, the Cardinals have played the Oilers/Titans the fewest amount of times—11 games total. The Cardinals lead the series 7-4, including wins in the two most recent matchups in 2013 and 2017.
There have been just four Titans-Cardinals games (2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017) between the clubs in their current incarnations—the Cardinals played in St. Louis from 1960-87 (they played in Chicago prior to that), and the Titans were the Houston Oilers (1960-96) and Tennessee Oilers (1997- 98) prior to taking their current name and opening Nissan Stadium in 1999.
The last two visits by the Cardinals to Nissan Stadium produced two of the most dramatic finishes in the stadium’s history. On Dec. 15, 2013, the Titans erased a 17-point deficit in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, only to watch Jay Feely win it for the Cardinals with a 41-yard field goal in overtime.
Prior to that, on Nov. 29, 2009, the Titans needed a late 99-yard touchdown drive to clinch a 20-17 victory against the Cardinals. Led by
quarterback Vince Young, the Titans converted three times on fourth down on the game-winning drive, including a 10-yard touchdown pass from Young to Kenny Britt with no time remaining on the clock.
The Titans have made only one trip to State Farm Stadium, which opened in Glendale, Ariz., in 2006. On Dec. 10, 2017, Phil Dawson’s four field goals were enough for the Cardinals to escape with a 12-7 win. On Nov. 1, 1970, in the first-ever matchup between the Oilers and Cardinals, the Cardinals won by a score of 44-0. It stood as the largest shutout loss in the history of the Oilers and Titans until 2009 and began a three-game winning streak for the Cardinals against the Oilers (1970, 1974 and 1979). The Oilers then won consecutive games (1985 and 1988) before exchanging victories in the 1990s (Cardinals won in 1994, Oilers in 1997).
The Cardinals were founded in 1898, making the team the United States’ oldest professional football franchise still in existence. In 1920, they became a charter member of the National Football League (then the American Professional Football Association). They share a distinction with the Chicago Bears of being the only two of 11 charter members still operating today. The Cardinals have played as the Morgan Athletic Club, the Normals, Racine Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals, St. Louis Cardinals, Phoenix Cardinals and Arizona Cardinals.
MOST RECENT MATCHUPS
2005 Week 7 • Oct. 23, 2005 • Titans 10 at CARDINALS 20
Billy Volek starts at quarterback instead of Steve McNair (back injury) … Volek passes for 198 yards, one touchdown and one interception but departs the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion … Matt Mauck finishes for the Titans at quarterback … The Titans score the game’s first 10 points, including a 38-yard touchdown reception by Brandon Jones, but the Cardinals answer with 20 consecutive points … The Cardinals seal the victory with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Larry Fitzgerald.
2009 Week 12 • Nov. 29, 2009 • Cardinals 17 at TITANS 20
The Titans cap a late 99-yard touchdown drive with a game-winning, 10-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to Kenny Britt with no time remaining … The Titans converted three times on fourth down on the game-winning drive … Young passes for 387 yards, and Chris Johnson rushes for 154 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown … Matt Leinart starts at quarterback for the Cardinals in place of an injured Kurt Warner.
2013 Week 15 • Dec. 15, 2013 • CARDINALS 37 at Titans 34 (OT)
Jay Feely’s 41-yard field goal in overtime ends the Titans’ comeback attempt … The Titans score 17 points in the final four minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime … Ryan Fitzpatrick passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns, while Kendall Wright catches 12 passes for 150 yards … Michael Preston records two touchdown receptions … Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason recovers a muffed kickoff and intercepts two passes, including one for a touchdown and one to set up the score in overtime … Rashard Mendenhall rushes for a pair of touchdowns for the Cardinals.
2017 Week 14 • Dec. 10, 2017 • Titans 7 at CARDINALS 12
The Titans take a 7-0 lead after a six-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry but are kept scoreless for the remainder of the game … The Cardinals score 12 unanswered points in the second half on four field goals by Phil Dawson … The Titans defense records eight sacks on Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert … A fake punt by the Titans (direct snap to Eric Weems) is stuffed for no gain by the Cardinals to set up one of Dawson’s field goals … Marcus Mariota is intercepted twice by the Cardinals.