Titans Fall Short… Once Again
What was a beautiful day at Nissan Stadium (if you were in the shade) ended poorly with the Titans falling short to the Raiders 17-10, after a gut wrenching couple penalties set the Titans back deep in the red zone in the final minute of play. After scoring a field goal on the opening drive, the Titans offense looked anemic for most of the game, giving the ball away on three different occasions, two Mariota interceptions, and another Mariota fumble. Delanie Walker’s presence was also missed, as short dropped passes by Phillip Supernaw among others helped to set back the offense on several occasions. The offense did come alive late in the second half and put up a third quarter touchdown, with Demarco Murray cashing in his 4th touchdown of the season with a nice 5 yard run after posting a 36 yard gain on a run earlier on in the drive.
After the defense made a great stop at the two-minute warning, the Titans got the ball back on their 20 yard line, with plenty of time to drive the field and tie up the game. Mariota looked very comfortable in the no-huddle offense, putting the Titans in a position to tie the game. He spread the ball around, and on a 19 yard pass to Tajae Sharpe that took him to the 3 yard line, the Titans looked like they were on their way to scoring. However, a flag was thrown on Taylor Lewan, who had run down the field and in what looked like an attempt to drive the pile closer to the end zone, he dove over the pile hitting a player, and was called for targeting – unnecessary roughness, which moved the Titans back 15 yards to the 18.
On third down, Mariota hit Andre Johnson in the end zone for his second consecutive final minute (or close to it) touchdown, only to have it called back for offensive pass interference, as he had made contact with the corner on the route, which looked like a very soft call. Two plays later, the Titans were in a very familiar situation, 4th and 4 on the Oakland 12 yard line with the game on the line. They lined up with 3 receivers out left and Mariota made a nice pass to Harry Douglas in the end zone who appeared to be pushed down by the cornerback. However, no flag was thrown! It was certainly as much contact as Andre Johnson had made with the cornerback a couple plays earlier, but different result. The Titans lost in heart breaking fashion, falling to 1-2 after a great opportunity to steal a win, which especially for the Titans, are hard to come by in the NFL.
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The Titans defense, on the other hand, looked much like it had in the first couple games, by giving up yards and first downs, but “Titaning Up” when it mattered and not giving up many points. The Titans defense held the Raiders, who were the #1 offense in the NFL after 2 weeks, scoreless in the second half, giving the offense every opportunity to come back in the game, despite the offense seeming to refuse to take advantage of situations.
Despite the result, the season is far from over and there are still some reasons for optimism (I’m holding onto every little bit that I can!). The Titans play the Texans (2-1) next weekend, for an opportunity to be 2-2 and atop the division a quarter way through the season. That would be huge, and although the Texans will have a little longer to rest having played on Thursday night this week, they were manhandled by the Patriots who were playing with a third string quarterback and still not a fully healthy Gronk (in all fairness though, the Pats haven’t seemed to slow down in the least without Brady, but we can still hope that it means the Texans aren’t as good as they looked the first couple weeks).
If we can beat the Texans and get on a roll, a relatively weak upcoming schedule which includes the Browns and Dolphins, and other two AFC South teams Colts and Jaguars the Titans have the potential to make a nice little run and be looking like potential contenders at the half way point through the season. A win yesterday certainly would have helped with that, but there’s no good in dwelling on a loss. I still have faith in Mariota and the Titans, and in the AFC South, a couple of games over .500 could mean a playoff spot, who knows. Its only week 3, and it’s not time to give up quite yet.
Jorge’s Thumbs Up Emoji:
As I mentioned earlier, the Titans defense was impressive yesterday. It didn’t always feel like it, as the Raiders seemed to move the ball with relative ease, but somehow the defense kept them off the scoreboard. They were shutout in the second half, and 3 of their 17 points in the first half came after Mariota’s second quarter fumble in the Titans territory. No, they weren’t perfect, but they were good enough to give the Titans every opportunity to come back in the game. Mr. Lebeau, we thank you for that.
How about Demarco Murray??? First Titans RB to break the 100 yard barrier since 2013, and has now scored a TD in his first 3 games as a Titan. He was a fantastic pick up for the Titans this past offseason, in the first blockbuster move made by Jon Robinson. In the preseason, there was lots of chatter of Derrick Henry and how long it would take him to take over the starting spot. While Henry hasn’t looked bad, Demarco doesn’t look like he will be giving up the majority of the carries any time soon. He has been explosive, with a 66 yard run last week against the Lions and busted out a 36-yarder yesterday in a drive that ended with him outrunning a corner back and finding the end zone. Welcome to Nashville Demarco, you’ve been a smashing hit so far.
Jorge’s Sad Face Emoji:
Mariota looked bad yesterday going 17-33, 214 yards, 2 int’s and a fumble. Remember when he was going to be the guy that never turned the ball over? The Titans media was covering his interception-less rookie training camp campaign like he was the second coming? Well, I do still think he could be the second coming, but he’s got to do a better job of protecting the football, because while the defense is playing outstanding football, it is hard to count on them to play like this in every game this season, and although we’re only 3 weeks in, the Titans cannot afford to be losing any more winnable games. After yesterday, and the week 1 loss to the Shaun Hill led Vikings (although at 3-0 with wins against the Packers and Panthers, the Vikings look great), if the Titans drop many more of those games they will be out of playoff contention before December.
Perrish Cox has certainly not had the start to the season that he had hoped for. While he did have the game sealing interception against the Lions last week, he looked awful throughout the game. He missed tackles all over the field (including getting run over by Matthew Stafford), and yesterday wasn’t any better. Regardless who he was matched up against yesterday, receivers were getting open, and Carr was looking to Cox’s side of the field all game long. He is capable of playing well, we saw that some last year, so I don’t know if he has just lost his confidence or what but we need him badly.