Titans rookie Will Levis throws 4 TD passes in first start

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans got a glimpse of their future Sunday, with rookie quarterback Will Levis leading the team to victory in his first career start.

“He was ballin’, huh,” Titans running back Derrick Henry said. “He was playing out of his mind. It was exciting how it came together with him handling the offense and us being able to finish drives and makes some plays.”

Levis completed 19 of his 29 pass attempts for 238 yards and four touchdowns — three to DeAndre Hopkins — to lead the Titans to a much-needed 28-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

The rookie quarterback joined Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (1961 vs. the Chicago Bears) and former Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (2015 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers) as the third NFL player with four passing touchdowns in his first career game.

Levis started in place of Ryan Tannehill, who suffered a right high ankle sprain in the Titans’ Week 6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in London. Tannehill had been ruled out Friday.

The first touchdown to Hopkins was a 47-yard strike in the first quarter, after which Hopkins said he gave Levis the ball and told him, “Let’s go get some more.”

The second came on a 16-yard pass that hit Hopkins in stride so he could make his way to the end zone. The final touchdown throw to Hopkins came after a pump fake from Levis moved Falcons safety Richie Grant out of position, and Levis effortlessly hit Hopkins for a 61-yard score.

“I was just trusting what I saw,” Levis said of his throws to Hopkins. “We knew we’d get opportunities to go over the top on them. I just wanted to make the right decisions and he was doing a good job of getting open.”

Levis finished his scoring barrage with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine with two Falcons pass-rushers barreling toward him. The ball was lofted perfectly, allowing Westbrook-Ikhine to run under it and bring the pass in.

“Not a bad debut,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “We hit some shots down the field. The opportunities to move the ball down the field were there and we hit ’em.”

The rookie looked extremely comfortable in the pocket, even when it collapsed around him. The Titans even used a version of the Philadelphia Eagles‘ “Brotherly Shove” sneak play on which Levis gained two first downs.

The Titans moved up in this year’s draft — from No. 41 to No. 33 overall — by sending a 2023 third-round pick and a 2024 third-round selection to the Arizona Cardinals to select Levis with the second pick of the second round.

“This is a dream come true for sure,” Levis said. “I dreamed of this moment as a kid and to get a win is incredible. But we have a few more minutes to celebrate it today, then we’re on to Pittsburgh as Vrabel would say.”

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