Tennessee Titans Offense Must Produce First Quarter Touchdowns

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 05: Marcus Mariota
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 05: Marcus Mariota /

If the offense could start finding the end zone more often in the first quarter, it could galvanize this Tennessee Titans team.

The Tennessee Titans have been plagued by slow starts throughout this season that have contributed to losses and turned potential blowout games against bad teams into nail-biting, down-to-the-wire finishes. With three games remaining, the Titans offense has to turn the corner to make the postseason possible.

First Quarter Touchdowns

Week 1 – Oakland Raiders

12 plays, 75 yards, touchdown run

The Titans began the season behind the eight ball, so to speak.

A failed onside kick attempt to start the season gave the Raiders a short field. Derek Carr capitalized and the defense surrendered their first score of the year only a little over two minutes into the game.

Tennessee responded quickly. Marcus Mariota converted three third downs through the air, and finished the drive himself on a quarterback keeper for the Titans’ first points of the season on the offense’s opening series.

Mariota was 3-of-6 for 51 passing yards and scampered into the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown run.

Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans /

Tennessee Titans

Tennessee lost to the Raiders and would not score an opening quarter, much less opening drive, touchdown for the next eight weeks.

Week 9 – Baltimore Ravens

3 plays, 46 yards, touchdown pass

At this point in the season, Tennessee was fresh off their bye week. Prior to the bye, the winless Cleveland Browns kept the Titans out of the end zone all game. Ryan Succop scored all 12 points, with the last boot sealing an overtime win.

Mariota and the offense were focused on getting the football in the end zone early. The offense moved the ball in their opening series, but settled for three. The Titans were forced to punt on their second possession. Safety Kevin Byard added to his interception collection, plucking one of Joe Flacco’s floaters and giving the Titans offense good field position.

Three plays later, Mariota tossed Rishard Matthews a dime and the offense scored with a little over one minute remaining in the first quarter. It was their second time scoring a touchdown in the first quarter since the season kicked off.

Tennessee defeated the Ravens and the offense found the end zone two more times.

Week 10 – Cincinnati Bengals

10 plays, 84 yards, touchdown run

Titans fans wouldn’t have to wait long for another first quarter score.

In their opening series against Cincinnati, Mariota was 4-of-4 for 54 yards through the air and 28 on the ground. The Titans offense would gain 44 yards rushing and managed to overcome a 15-yard Unnecessary Roughness penalty from Taylor Lewan to score.

The opening quarter points would matter most at the close of the game. The Bengals hung around and took a lead late in the fourth quarter, but Mariota led the offense down the field to score with under a minute left to play.

Scoring in the first quarter played a huge role in how the game ended, and Tennessee escaped with a win.

Week 11 – Pittsburgh Steelers

11 plays, 68 yards, touchdown run

For the third consecutive week, the Titans offense figured out how to score a touchdown in the first quarter. However, the game itself would be a disaster.

Mariota threw a pick on the opening offensive series. He redeemed himself by moving the ball through the air and on the ground. Mariota ran it in himself at the end of the drive, making it 10-7.

The opening series blunder would be a sign of things to come. Tennessee kept the game close and opened the half with a quick strike that resuscitated the hope of a road win on a short week. Instead, Pittsburgh would capitalize on the Titans’ mental mistakes and Antonio Brown would not be denied.

The box score doesn’t tell the story of what transpired in Pittsburgh. Had Tennessee been able to avoid backing themselves into a corner, the game could have and should have come down to the wire.

The Steelers rolled through Tennessee on the national stage, scoring 24 second half points to the Titans’ seven, with 17 coming in the fourth quarter.

Tennessee hasn’t scored points in the first quarter since the Thursday night debacle.

What it means?

Looking back, the Titans are 2-2 when scoring in the opening stanza.

How is that a good thing? Here’s how.

More from Titan Sized

Had the Titans not scored in the first quarter, they would have lost all four of the football games mentioned above. Moreover, had the Titans managed to produce the second half success that has been instrumental in building up their win total, they would have been 4-0, or 3-1 at worst.

Tennessee has been a “tale of two halves” team all season, and it’s costed the team a few wins. The three-game stretch ahead needs to be a momentum builder. For the offense, producing first quarter points is critical to establishing an early rhythm. It also prevents the defense, that has been playing lights out, from having to do too much too early.

The Titans have five scoreless first quarters on the year, boasting a 2-3 record in those games. When Tennessee is outscored in the opening quarter, they are 1-3. When the Titans are leading their opponent after the first quarter, they are 5-0.