By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — With the Titans facing consecutive games against winless teams, no one anticipated that they would have any problems getting victories, even with injuries that saw their two top wide receivers out of the game. But after Sunday’s 27-24 overtime road loss to the New York Jets now their trip this week to Jacksonville doesn’t look like so much of a sure thing. Besides A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, the Titans lost guard Roger Saffold in the fourth quarter, while both center Ben Jones and tackle Taylor Lewan suffered injuries during the game and missed portions of it. Tight end Tommy Hudson also was lost due to injury, and wide receiver Josh Reynolds missed some time as well.
“Hopefully we can get back on the right track and get back to work and get healthy,” Titans head coach Mike Vrabel told the Associated Press. “We’re pretty beat up. There were about 10 trips out there, so we’ll see where we are health wise.” But injuries or not, the Titans missed ample opportunities to put the previously winless Jets away. They ended up with only nine points on three trips inside the 20, settling for field goals of 44, 46 and 36 yards by Randy Bullock. Later they fell behind 24-17, rallied to tie the score, but gave up a field goal in overtime. The offense stalled and Bullock missed a 49-yarder that would have let the game a tie.
The Titans realize they won’t defeat anyone when they surrender seven sacks and fail to score touchdowns in the red zone. “We’ve got to be better,” Derrick Henry, who ran for 157 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, said. “We’ve got to get points when we get down in the red zone. We need touchdowns.” “It wasn’t like we didn’t move the ball,” Vrabel said. “We just weren’t able to finish drives early in the game and kept them in it. We kicked three field goals and gave up big plays on defense. We gave them a reason to go out there and play. Give them credit.”
The defense allowed big plays as well. Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson had two touchdown passes against the Titans coming off a shutout loss the week before. Ryan Tannehill nearly had a 300-yard passing game (298) with 30 completions in 49 attempts and one touchdown, including the game-tying score with less than a minute remaining. But ultimately the Titans lost a very winnable game against a team that many thought was a candidate for a one or two-win season.
With Jacksonville next on the horizon, the Titans are at least the only team in the AFC South that doesn’t have a losing record. At 2-2, they’re a game ahead of the 1-3 Colts and Texans. They’re also 1-0 in the division. But all that’s little comfort when you drop a game that any club which views itself as a title contender should win.