The Tennessee Titans defeated the Cleveland Browns in overtime on Sunday by a score of 12-9 on a game-winning field goal Ryan Succop.
The task for the Tennesse Titans on Sunday seemed simple. Go into Cleveland, defeat the winless Browns, whose team is inferior to yours, and head into the bye week with a winning record.
While the Titans did accomplish those things against the Browns, they did so in a way that left many fans disappointed. Sure, the Titans came through in overtime to win their fourth game of the season. But the fact that they had to do it in overtime was not good.
The Cleveland Browns are a dysfunctional team with a colossal lack of talent. They have now started the 2017 season 0-7, and have not won a game since Christmas Eve of last year. They have played three different quarterbacks in the last three games.
Yet the Titans were unable to get into any sort of rhythm during the game on both sides of the ball. The offense again struggled to sustain drives because of an inability to run the football (2.5 yards per carry), and the defense was unable to generate a pass rush until late in the fourth quarter (one sack in regulation).
“Disappointing” was the word used by head coach Mike Mularkey to describe the game, something you don’t often hear after a win.
“We didn’t make very many plays. A lot of contested throws that we did not catch. Regardless of who it’s against, we didn’t make plays when we needed some plays made.”
The most disappointing part of the game came when the Titans offense had a 1st & Goal situation from the one-yard line and were unable to capitalize. Marcus Mariota missed a wide-open Delanie Walker off of a well-designed play action, and DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry could not find pay dirt on their three carries.
“I’ll say it again, four downs on the one, we’re going to go for it. With our backs, tight ends, our fullback, that’s disappointing. With opportunities in the red zone, we have to figure out what we’re doing wrong. It starts with the scheme and coaching, and then we look at the players doing it.”
Quarterback Marcus Mariota was also quick to criticize the efforts of his offense when they had four chances to score a touchdown from the one and turned the ball over on downs.
“We can’t keep kicking field goals. We gotta score touchdowns, we have to make the most of every drive. We’ll have a week to correct those things and make sure it gets going in the right direction.”
A bright spot for the Titans on an otherwise dreary day was the performance of second-year safety Kevin Byard, who intercepted Browns quarterbacks three times. It was the most interceptions for a Titans player since LB Keith Bulluck did it nearly ten years ago. Coach Mularkey had high praise for his former third-round draft pick.
“His time was coming. I don’t know that anybody believed he could get three, but he’s always around the ball. He’s having a good year.”
At the end of the day, a win is a win in the NFL. It’s a tough league to win in, and the Titans have now done it twice in a row. Though everyone should certainly take this win with a grain of salt, it is not a reason to hang heads in shame.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the Titans had lost to the Browns two years in a row. They won two and three total games in those seasons, respectively.
The Titans are in a good spot heading into the bye week. They are right in the thick of a close race in the AFC South, have a winning record, and will be able to rest their injured players for two weeks before they have to play again. Additionally, receiver Corey Davis and safety Johnathan Cyprien are both expected to be at 100% health after the upcoming bye week.
“We’re in a good place going into the bye. We’ll get healthy and hopefully get some starters back, and hopefully get a good study of ourselves and what we’re doing offensively in the red zone, where we’ve struggled. I think this is a good time, where we’re at.”
Following the week off, the Titans will begin preparations to take on the Baltimore Ravens at home. Hopefully, it will be a Titans team that is rested, healthy, organized, and ready for a playoff push.