Here’s some instant analysis of the Tennessee Titans’ Week 16 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
After getting off to a fast start against the New Orleans Saints, things just kind of unraveled for the Tennessee Titans from there in all facets, ultimately leading to a 38-28 loss on Sunday.
The Titans jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but the Saints would eventually flip the switch and outscore the Titans 38-14 the rest of the way, albeit with a little help from the officiating crew that missed a few huge calls over the course of the game that led to Saints touchdowns.
We’ll get to that, and more, below.
As far as the Titans’ playoff hopes are concerned, it’s very simple: if they win next week, they’re in, so Tennessee now controls its own destiny.
-There were a few instances where Ryan Tannehill held onto the ball for too long, but his offensive line did him no favors, leading to Tannehill being under constant pressure. Tennessee’s offensive line looked like the one that wrecked games earlier in the season. He finished 17-of-27 for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
-Tannehill had to make a few exceptional plays to buy time and make things happen, particularly on his completion right before the touchdown pass to Tajae Sharpe in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for Tennessee, the Saints were solid in coverage and the consistent pressure on Tannehill made it hard to get anything going downfield.
–Dion Lewis got off to a slow start, but he did about as much as anyone could’ve asked. After his first two runs went for nothing, Lewis totaled 68 yards on his last 13 carries (5.2 yards per carry), including a long run of 17 yards and a long catch of 19 yards. He finished with 87 total yards.
-The Titans’ offensive line was putrid, particular at both tackle positions. Taylor Lewan got beat for at least one sack and got blown up on a third down run play in the second quarter. In all, Tennessee’s O-line allowed five sacks and gave up consistent pressure all game long.
-With the Titans down by three late in the fourth quarter, Kalif Raymond made a catch in Saints territory and Tennessee looked to be primed to at least tie the game, however he fumbled after being hit hard, which resulted in a Saints recovery and return deep into Titans territory. The Saints would go on to score. However, that should not have happened, as the officials missed a clear and obvious hit on a defenseless receiver (Raymond), which would have overturned the fumble and could have changed the course of the game. NFL officiating continues to be a joke.
-The Titans were all over Drew Brees in the first half, notching two sacks and getting constant pressure on him. Things changed drastically in the second half, as the Titans totaled one sack and didn’t do anywhere near enough to keep Brees uncomfortable. No surprise that led to Brees going off in the second half and picking apart the Titans’ secondary.
-Tennessee’s defense got burned for two big touchdowns plays, one of which was a 61-yard completion for a score to Jared Cook. That play, however, shouldn’t have happened either because Kamalei Correa was clearly held. So, in effect, the officials handed the Saints two touchdowns in this game.
–Derick Roberson had two of Tennessee’s three sacks and looked electric out there. The UDFA out of Sam Houston State needs more opportunities moving forward.
-We’re going to have a new section for special teams in this one. Kicker Greg Joseph couldn’t get touchbacks, and the Titans got burnt on multiple kickoff returns that set the Saints up with excellent field position. Touchbacks have been an issue, but the Titans also need to tackle someone.
-With just over 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Titans down by 10 and on the Saints’ 48-yard line, Mike Vrabel decided to punt. I personally would’ve liked to see the Titans go for it only needing three yards for the first down.
-Arthur Smith showed some creativity early in the game with a reverse to A.J. Brown that went 49 yards for a touchdown. There really wasn’t much to talk about after that, as the Titans couldn’t make the necessary adjustments to counter the Saints’ pressure. It’s hard to get on the offensive coordinator when the group upfront makes it impossible for anything to develop.