By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — After six games the Tennessee Titans’ don’t look like a team with playoff potential, let alone a Super Bowl contender. Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in London dropped them to 2-4, and only an outstanding defensive effort in the red zone kept the score that close. The Titans defense forced the Raves to kick six field goals and surrendered only one touchdown despite being in the red zone six times. The Titans entered the game ranked fourth in the NFL for proficiency in preventing red zone touchdowns, and that was one area where they excelled Sunday.
But the offense continues to struggle. The Titans also were ranked fourth from the bottom in the league in scoring red zone touchdowns, and they got just one more Sunday from Derrick Henry. Henry was among the few Titans on offense who had a good game, along with fellow running back Tyjae Spears, whose tremendous 48-yard run set up the final Titans field goal. But the Titans converted just one of nine third downs, while the Ravens finished 50 percent in that category, converting eight of 16.
Even worse was the fact QB Ryan Tannehill is injured once again. He hurt the same ankle that was surgically repaired last season, though in this case the injury resulted from him holding the ball too long and finally getting sacked rather than problems with the offensive line. Still, before he was injured, Tannehill had a critical interception on a third and two play near midfield, which came as the Titans were rallying and and had cut a 15-point deficit to five. They never got any closer.
While the defense can be commended for not allowing a lot of touchdowns, they also gave up four scoring drives of at least 10 plays, all taking lots of time off the clock. Receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine dropped what should have been a touchdown pass in the end zone, and offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere drew a costly penalty for an illegal formation that erased a big first half play. The Titans gained only 66 yards with two first downs in the opening two quarters.
Henry’s 63-yard run and a Sean Murphy-Bunting interception in the third quarter fueled the brief Titans rally, with Henry’s 15-yard scoring run cutting the Ravens’ lead to 18-13 with eight minutes gone in the third quarter. Unfortunately, the Titans couldn’t put together either a key offensive or defensive spurt when they needed it most. They got three more field goals from Nick Folk, who hasn’t missed an attempt through six games. But the special teams also contributed to the loss, with the punt return team giving up a 71-yarder that set up one Ravens score, and a Kyle Phillips muffed punt resulting in another. Folk’s last-ditch onside kick was recovered by the Ravens, ending any Titans hopes.
The Titans have a bye week coming up, with their next game at home Oct. 29 against the Falcons. They will get the injury report on Tannehill later, and take things from there. But he was limping through two possessions prior to being replaced late by Malik Willis, so that’s not a hopeful sign. The Titans also lost receiver Chris Moore, who went into concussion protocol following an illegal hit from the Ravens’ Kyle Hamilton that got him ejected.
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