NASHVILLE Tenn. – A last-second 22-yard field goal from Kai Forbath spoiled what would have been the Titans' (2-5) second win in a row, but Washington (2-5) instead escaped with a narrow 19-17 victory at FedExField.
Charlie Whitehurst received his third start of the season, throwing for 160 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. A 14-yard touchdown to Kendall Wright in the second quarter gave the Titans a 10-6 lead going into halftime. Down 16-10 in the fourth quarter, Whitehurst threw a bomb down the right seam to Derek Hagan for a 38-yard score as Tennessee reclaimed the lead 17-16 midway through the fourth quarter.
The big storyline, however, came at halftime when the Redskins decided to pull starting quarterback Kirk Cousins in favor of backup Colt McCoy. McCoy threw a touchdown on his first pass attempt – a short 10-yard toss that Pierre Garcon turned into a 70-yard touchdown.
McCoy finished 10-of-11 passing for 128 yards and engineered a 10-play, 76-yard drive that resulted in the 22-yard game winning field goal as time expired. The game-winner marked Forbath's fourth field goal of the day (31, 31, 27, 22).
The Tennessee Titans take the field for a Week 7 game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
Total Yards – Ten: 236 Was: 351
First Downs – Ten: 14 Was: 16
Third Down Efficiency – Ten: 3/11 (27%) Was: 3/11 (27%)
Turnovers – Ten: 2 Was: 2
Penalties (Yards) – Ten: 11 (96) Was: 7 (50)
Neither team played a clean game, but the Titans proved to have the more costly mistakes. Penalties and third downs continue to bite Tennessee's offense, stalling multiple drives on Sunday. On Washington's final possession, the Titans were called for two penalties, including a 22-yard pass interference against Jason McCourty that helped set up the winning field goal.
Following Washington's first turnover, the Titans got the ball inside the red zone at the Washington 15-yard line. Bishop Sankey took a first down carry for seven yards to the Redskins' eight-yard line. Another Sankey carry for four yards set up the Titans with a first-and-goal until a holding penalty wiped out the play. The Titans had to settle for a field goal on the drive. Those are the situations that seemingly always come back to bite a team, and it did again on Sunday.
Notable Milestones Achieved
• Kendall Wright led the Titans with six catches for 68 yards, giving the third-year receiver 2,000 yards for his career (2,002). Wright's touchdown gives him four on the season, tying his personal best when he also scored four times during his rookie season in 2012.
Five Things to Watch
1. Win Third Down
Tennessee's defense succeeded in this department, holding the Redskins to just 3-for-11, but its offense posted the same numbers. The Titans converted just one third down in the second half.
- Win the Turnover Battle**
This one's a wash with both teams forcing two turnovers. Derrick Morgan recorded his first sack and forced fumble of the season with Avery Williamson recovering. It marked the second consecutive game that Williamson recovered a fumble for the Titans.
Wesley Woodyard intercepted Kirk Cousins on the very next play after the Redskins picked off Whitehurst. The interception was Woodyard's second of the season.
Tennessee's second turnover turned out to be the most costly, with Dexter McCluster muffing a punt at the end of the fourth quarter that the Redskins recovered.
The Titans have forced a turnover in nine-consecutive games dating back to last season which marks the third longest streak among NFL teams.
3. Avoid Giving up the Home Run
Washington had four explosive plays on Sunday (20+ yards) and two completions of longer than 40 yards. However, both will be plays that the Titans look back on knowing they could have stopped. Both were short throws, followed by missed tackles that allowed Niles Paul to gain 50 yards and Pierre Garcon to run 70 yards into the end zone.
- Establish the Running Game**
Bishop Sankey got his second straight start and ran for 56 yards on 16 carries. Unfortunately, 39 of those yards came in the first half as the Titans struggled to run the ball in the final two quarters once again. Tennessee finished the game with a mere 76 rushing yards.
Until the Titans improve on third down, the running game is going to continue to suffer from a numbers perspective.
5. Finish in the Fourth
A quarter that began so promising for the Titans ended in heartbreak. Tennessee held Washington to a field goal to start the quarter following McCluster's muffed punt. The offense then took the lead on an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive culminating in Derek Hagan's 38-yard touchdown catch.
The defense followed with a three-and-out to give Tennessee's offense the ball back. This is when things began to go south for the Titans. A holding call on first down all but assured the Titans eventual three-and-out, marking the third straight week the offense has struggled to bleed the clock with a fourth quarter lead.
The rest as they say, is history, as Forbath sent the Titans home with their fifth loss of the season.
The Titans have had fourth quarter leads in each of their last three games but came away with only a single victory. It goes to show that this team isn't far away, but also that the margin for error in this league is infinitely small.
Quote of the Day
"I am extremely disappointed in the outcome of today's game. We made way too many mistakes today. We hung in there and fought but it was too much to overcome. It is a very tough loss."
– Ken Whisenhunt on the loss