By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee Titans set a record Sunday, though it’s not one of distinction. Their 20-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was their eighth straight road defeat. They have not won a road game since defeating the Green Bay Packers last November. This one also featured all the problems that have plagued them the entire season as they fell to 3-6. Once again they were unable to score touchdowns, even in the red zone. They had to settle twice for field goals, first after what had looked like an impressive first quarter drive, the second time when they were trying to rally in the fourth quarter. Nick Folk even missed his first field goal of the season after hitting 20 straight, though he converted two other times.
Will Levis’ third game as starting QB was uneventful, though a large reason for the inconsistency and ineffectiveness was the Titans’ continuing difficulties with pass protection. They began the game ranked third in the NFL for the most times their QB was pressured after dropping back. Sunday’s game won’t improve those stats. The Bucs had four sacks, numerous pressures, and also proved unable to stop the Bucs down the stretch. But they did at least get one turnover, an interception by Roger McCreary. It was only their third of the season.
Offensively, they never got the ground game going, as Derrick Henry was repeatedly bottled up by the Bucs defense. Tampa Bay was from spectacular on offense, but they got enough from Baker Mayfield to get a pair of touchdowns. One was on a 43-yard pass to running back Rachaad White in the first quarter that was the only touchdown in the opening half. Tampa Bay added 10 consecutive points, with their second and final touchdown coming on a 22-yard pass to Mike Evans. The final field goal made it a 14-point margin, and the Titans were unable to get things any closer against a team that had lost four consecutive games prior to going against Nashville.
Things don’t look very promising for the Titans moving forward. Even though Jacksonville was blown out at home Sunday by Jacksonville, they’ve still sitting at 6-3 and atop the AFC South. Both the Colts and Texans won today, leaving the Titans very much in the basement at 3-6, with yet another road game scheduled Sunday in Jacksonville. The injuries continue to pile up on the offensive line as the Titans have already had one tackle declared out for the next four games and saw another one depart Sunday with a concussion. They’ve lost four of their last five. They’d need to win six of their final eight games to have a winning season, and odds on that one are quite long. They need five wins just to finish at 8-9.
While there’s certainly always hope, and they do have five of the final seven at Nissan Stadium, it was cited at the end of Sunday’s game that 3-6 teams have reached the playoffs only four percent of the time. At this rate, no one would even consider taking those odds.