NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes, and the banged-up Tennessee Titans never trailed in snapping a two-game skid by beating the Chicago Bears, 24-17, on Sunday.
The Titans (6-2) avoided their longest skid since Tannehill took over as starting quarterback and stayed atop the AFC South going into Thursday night's division showdown against Indianapolis.
They got a big help from an undermanned and struggling defense missing three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jadeveon Clowney with an injured knee days after the Titans released linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. and starting cornerback Johnathan Joseph.
Cornerback Desmond King picked up a fumble and ran 63 yards for a TD only days after the Titans picked up the 2018 All-Pro from the Chargers for a sixth-round pick. King didn't join Tennessee until Saturday after clearing COVID-19 testing protocols and put the Titans up 17-0 late in the third quarter.
The Bears (5-4) came in trailing Green Bay in the NFC North dealing with their own injuries and COVID-19 issues. Chicago lost its third straight despite the defense coming up with three sacks and holding the NFL's fifth-best offense averaging 407 yards a game to a season-low 228.
Nick Foles made it interesting with a pair of TD passes within the final minutes. Amani Hooker recovered the Bears' onside kick attempt for Tennessee with about a minute left.
Tennessee came in as the NFL's worst on third downs by a big margin but stopped the Bears on their first nine third downs. The Titans also were among the NFL's worst sacking the quarterback, and they sacked Foles three times. They recovered two fumbles.
This was the first game for punter Ryan Allen in Tennessee, reunited with his former Patriots teammate Stephen Gostkowski with three-time Pro Bowl punter Brett Kern put on injured reserve Saturday. Matt Overton also took over as long snapper after Tennessee also made a change at that position.
Foles was playing behind an offensive line missing center Cody Whitehair currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Foles threw for 335 yards.
The Titans' defense got a big confidence boost on Chicago's first drive. Foles hit Allen Robinson II for a 4-yard pass, but Robinson was marked out just shy of the first-down marker. The Titans stopped David Montgomery for no gain, sparking a big celebration by Tennessee defenders.
They gave the NFL's sixth-best scoring offense time to shake off a sluggish start.
Tennessee settled for a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter from Gostkowski. Then the Titans started their best drive by giving the ball to Derrick Henry five straight times, and they converted four third downs on a 12-play, 91-yard drive.
Tannehill capped the drive with a perfectly thrown ball to A.J. Brown covered by Buster Skrine, and Brown scored by reaching the ball out to the goal line. Tannehill also found a wide-open Jonnu Smith for a two-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Titans tight end MyCole Pruitt hurt his right knee late in the first quarter and had to be helped off the field. Rodger Saffold hurt a shoulder in the second quarter and went to the locker room. Defensive back Dane Cruikshank also injured a groin muscle.
Chicago defensive back Sherrick McManis hurt his hand and didn't return.
Bears: host Minnesota Vikings in prime time on Nov. 16.
Titans: host Indianapolis on Thursday night in an AFC South showdown.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.