NASHVILLE, TN — As the Titans prepare for their second game in a short week, they know that offensive production has become a major problem. The inability to score more points, coupled with major turnover problems, have resulted in disappointing losses. The most recent was Sunday’s 19-13 road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It dropped their record to 9-5 and reduced their division lead to 1/2 game over the Colts, although they own the tiebreaker if the two teams finish deadlocked for the division title. Still, this loss was especially troubling, as the Titans were outscored 16-0 in the second half and saw an excellent defensive effort negated by the offense not scoring enough points, and not making critical plays down the stretch.
When you hold a team to 12 first downs and 168 yards of total offense, that should be enough to get a win. Offensively, the Titans gained 201 yards rushing, with D’Onta Freeman getting 109 of them. But the four turnovers, three in the second half, prevented them from getting vital additional points, while two of them led to points by the Steelers. “It’s a sick feeling,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said on the team’s website. “Any time you walk away with a loss, it’s a sick feeling. For as many mistakes as we made throughout the game, to have a shot there at the end and to be moving the ball. … (We had) confidence in the huddle we were going to walk away with a win.” “The turnovers,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel added. “we have to hold the ball in much more regard. Obviously you can’t do that and think you are going to win. That’s what I appreciate this team, is that they battle. (But we) ade it too hard on ourselves.”
There were some good things, notably a 55-yard punt return by Chester Rogers, and another rushing touchdown for Tannehill. Kicker Randy Bullock also had two field goals, and the Titans held the ball for nearly 22 minutes (21:19) of the first half. The defense got a sack from outside linebacker Bud Dupree, and newly acquired inside linebacker Zach Cunningham made his debut. Unfortunately wide receiver Julio Jones went out after the first half with a hamstring injury. The Titans passing offense never made much of an impact, and the game ended when wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was stopped short on fourth down at the 10-yard line.
The Titans drove the ball deep into Pittsburgh territory late, but receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was tackled short (by inches) of the yard to gain at the 10-yard line on fourth down, and the Steelers ran out the clock.
Had the Titans won they would have moved into the top spot in the AFC. Instead the number one team is now Kansas City, who hasn’t lost a game since being defeated 27-3 by the Titans. Thursday they face another team in the playoff hunt, as they host the San Francisco 49ers, who are 8-6. Then the final home game will be against the Miami Dolphins, who’ve won six straight since beginning the season 1-7. The road and season finale is against the Houston Texans.