NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Draining. Disappointing. Frustrating.
Plenty of words were used in the Titans locker room to describe Sunday's 10-7 loss to the Falcons – including some that can't be used here. Others, meanwhile, were almost at a loss for words following another disappointing defeat.
"There's no moral victories,'' said Titans linebacker Avery Williamson, shaking his head. "I'm still feeling terrible. This is going to be a tough one to get over."
Guard Chance Warmack agreed.
"Oh yeah,'' Warmack said. "It is going to be a tough one to go to sleep on tonight."
A week after getting their doors blown off in a lopsided to the Dolphins, the Titans let one slip through the cracks at Nissan Stadium on Sunday.
The Titans failed to capitalize on several opportunities on offense, wasting a tremendous effort from their defense in the process.
The result was a fifth straight loss, including four straight at Nissan Stadium.
Zach Mettenberger started at quarterback in place of an injured Marcus Mariota, but he couldn't revive the Titans. Mettenberger completed 22-of-35 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown in the game, but he was intercepted twice.
On his final pass, Mettenberger was picked off by Falcons cornerback Robenson Therezie with 1:31 remaining in the game. On a second-and-five from the Atlanta 42, Mettenberger was aiming for receiver Kendall Wright on the play, but Therezie stepped in front of him at the 33-yard line.
The Falcons (6-1) then ran out the clock.
"It's frustrating for sure,'' Mettenberger said. "I've got to keep working like I know I do and it will come. It's a team effort and I obviously didn't make the plays to help the team out today."
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said he was happy with the effort, but not with the result.
"Well it goes without saying you are disappointed, with the way our guys fought today. I am proud as hell the way they did that,'' Whisenhunt said. "Obviously we've got to get over that hump. We had the ball in our hand at the end with a chance to tie it or win it and we can make mistakes there."
Whisenhunt said the Titans are still fighting. The Titans have now lost games by one point (Buffalo), two points (Colts) and three points (Falcons) this season.
"I think our guys are still engaged and I think they showed that today,'' he said. "We had a tough game last week and you saw a team that had a lot of resiliency. That's part of this game and I don't think there's anything wrong with saying that we're close. You're right, we haven't won a game yet. We haven't won one of those close games, but that doesn't mean that we're going to stop or that we're not almost there.
"So, we're going to keep fighting. Like I said, I think we're very close to getting over that hump and if you ask our players, I think they'll tell you the same thing. They believe in that."
After a scoreless first quarter, the Titans struck first in this one.
Following an interception by linebacker David Bass, the Titans scored on the next play on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Mettenberger to receiver Kendall Wright to make it 7-0 with 8:49 remaining in the second quarter.
The Falcons scored on their next possession, getting a 27-yard field goal from kicker Matt Bryant to make it 7-3.
The Titans had a chance to get more behind halftime. But on a second-and-goal from the Atlanta six-yard line with 18 seconds left, Mettenberger was intercepted by Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow. Mettenberger was hit as he threw the football, leaving Whisenhunt upset – replays showed Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayton hit Mettenberger's facemask on the play.
The Titans were still stewing afterward about the missed opportunity, and missed call.
The Falcons took the lead in the third quarter, as quarterback Matt Ryan connected with receiver Julio Jones on an eight-yard touchdown pass to cap a nine-play, 88-yard drive.
The Titans didn't fold. Williamson made a heck of a play late to keep Atlanta from breaking the game open late when he intercepted Ryan in the end zone on a ball that was first deflected by defensive back Marqueston Huff.
But the Titans failed to capitalize on the momentum switch, or take advantage of Bryant missing a 47-yard field goal with 2:28 left to give the Titans a final chance.
The Titans travel to Houston next Sunday to face the Texans.
Both teams are in need of a victory.
"You saw today we are not too far off, but you get tired of saying that,'' cornerback Jason McCourty said. "I like the way we fought, but we have to find a way to win somehow. We are doing a good job of fighting, but it kind of goes in vain when you don't win at the end."