NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s not often that a defensive lineman takes the game into his own hands, but that’s exactly what Jeffery Simmons did for the Tennessee Titans on Monday night. On the biggest of stages against a Super Bowl favorite, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Simmons dominated his offensive lineman and swallowed Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen whole on fourth-and-1 to secure a 34-31 victory.
Simmons walked into the postgame press conference in Nissan Stadium with the well-deserved game ball in hand. He still isn’t sure how players get ahold of these game balls, but he’s glad teammate Kevin Byard negotiated the prized pigskin for him.
“I don’t know how you get the ball, but KB actually gave me the ball. He was like, ‘Who made the tackle?’ I was like ‘Who you think?'” Simmons said with a laugh.
Simmons not only got the best of his offensive lineman from the jump, but he then handled Allen and made sure he didn’t get the few inches he needed to keep Buffalo’s hopes alive. Turns out, Simmons knew exactly what was coming on that pivotal fourth down. All he had to do was execute.
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“We know what they kind of do, especially in those types of situations,” Simmons said. “We know if the quarterback come under the center like that, we anticipate sneak. That was the play I thought they were gonna run and they did. I was inside of the tackle, got my head on the tackle, quarterback right there, he tried to get low — just put my big arms around him, he can’t move so, he was short.”
Simmons isn’t a household name, but the 24-year-old has shown the potential to become one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen in the NFL. His sheer size and brute strength obviously help, but it was his IQ, quick-thinking and desire to execute, which ultimately kept the Titans in the win column.
“Give our guys credit, give our staff credit,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said after the game. “They tried to walk into one. Our guys adjusted quickly without hesitation. Very, very well-prepared for that. They were able to execute. Obviously the players were the ones that were able to get the push and the penetration. We got down in there as he walked under center.”
The Titans are not a team that is known for their stout defense, and injuries certainly have not helped their case either. Still, during Monday night’s matchup this unit defended its goal line with everything it had. The Bills offense went just 2 of 5 in the red zone, and left points on the field that were much needed in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t perfect for Tennessee, but it was certainly enough.