The realm of NFL fate has an uncanny way of balancing its scales. Several months after experiencing the humbling ordeal of sitting through the entire first round of the NFL Draft without being selected, quarterback Will Levis found himself making his NFL debut with some valuable allies and facing a less formidable opponent.
Levis stepped onto the NFL stage last Sunday, filling in for the injured Ryan Tannehill and guiding the Titans to an impressive and efficient 28-23 triumph over the Atlanta Falcons. His debut performance was remarkable, as he completed 19 of 29 passes for 238 yards, throwing four touchdowns and not a single interception. Throughout the afternoon, Levis exhibited the composure of a seasoned veteran, potentially altering the narrative surrounding a team that had regrettably been absent from AFC playoff discussions in the previous two seasons.
Certainly, Levis had the advantage of having DeAndre Hopkins, who reeled in three touchdown passes for the second time in his NFL career, and Derrick Henry donning the iconic baby-blue Oiler throwback uniform. Additionally, Levis benefited from facing the Atlanta Falcons, a team renowned for their inconsistency.
“His debut was quite impressive. He received exceptional support from the receivers; Hop really energized us,” remarked Titans head coach Mike Vrabel after the game. “Not only did Will receive valuable assistance, but I believe the opportunities to advance the ball were there, and he capitalized on them.”
Levis initially caught the NFL’s attention earlier this year with his powerful arm and unique personality as a quarterback hailing from Kentucky. He was famous for social media-friendly stunts like eating banana peels and adding mayonnaise to his coffee. Draft analysts, captivated by his physique and arm strength, briefly considered him the favorite to be the second overall pick. However, his draft journey took an unexpected turn as he plummeted through the first round like a tossed banana peel. Eventually, Tennessee, seeking additional backup options for Tannehill, traded up to select Levis with the 33rd pick in the draft.
Levis’ performance marked a turning point for the Titans, breaking a string of unsuccessful encounters with teams boasting winning records. Notably, it was the highest point total the Titans (3-4) had put up all season and marked the end of a disheartening streak of 23 consecutive games in which they scored fewer than 28 points.
While it may be premature to pencil Levis into the starting lineup, his standout performance adds an intriguing dimension to the upcoming trade deadline. The Titans’ phones are likely to be ringing with inquiries about Tannehill’s availability, with teams like the Jets potentially seeking a skilled veteran like him.
Levis’ four-touchdown performance in his inaugural career start was just one shy of the NFL record of five, set by Gary Cuozzo for the Baltimore Colts in 1965. Notably, it was the first time a rookie quarterback threw four touchdowns in their debut since Marcus Mariota achieved the same feat for the Titans in 2015.
“I’m just one part of the team,” Levis humbly stated after the game. “Many guys did their jobs and contributed to our victory.”
However, Levis’ teammates weren’t about to let him downplay his exceptional performance. “He’s an incredibly talented quarterback,” remarked Hopkins. “He plays the game like he’s been here before.”
Henry was even more direct, saying, “He was on fire, wasn’t he?”