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Six Things That Stood Out

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Six Things That Stood Out for the Titans in Sunday's 16-15 Loss to the Saints


NEW ORLEANS – The Titans lost 16-15 to the Saints in the regular season opener here on Sunday at Caesars Superdome.

Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest:

Tannehill's Struggles

Ryan Tannehill's passer rating – 28.8 – helped tell the story of a day filled with frustration for the Titans quarterback. Tannehill was intercepted three times in the contest, and he missed open receivers on several other occasions. "I'm not happy about it," Tannehill said after the game. "But I'll go back to work and get it corrected and be ready next week." Tannehill had some good moments along the way, but there were way too many missed opportunities in this one. The Titans were just 2-of-12 (16.7 percent) on third down, and Tannehill was just 16-of-34 in the game. "I felt really good coming into the game — I felt healthy, I felt really good mentally, ready to roll," Tannehill said. "I just didn't come out and play well, obviously. I am not happy with the way I performed, and there's a lot of room to grow there."

Hooker's Impact

Titans safety Amani Hooker was one of the defense's biggest standouts during the preseason. Hooker tallied a team-high five interceptions in training camp practices, and he was regularly around the football. It didn't take long for Hooker to make a big impact on Sunday, as he wrestled the football away from Saints return man Rashid Shaheed on the opening kickoff, setting the Titans up for early points. Hooker also had a key interception at the end of the first half, keeping the Saints off the scoreboard. Hooker was credited with four tackles, including a tackle for a loss, along with two pass break-ups before leaving the game with a concussion. After the game, the team said Hooker was in concussion protocol.

Defense Ups and Downs

The Titans made plenty of noise early on defense, as Arden Key and Denico Autry tallied 1.5 sacks each and Jeffery Simmons added another. Hooker, as mentioned previously, added a big interception. The Titans held the Saints to just 69 rushing yards on the day, and a 2.6-yard rushing average. But the Titans had a chance to get the ball back late for a chance to win the game, and the defense couldn't get off the field. A long completion and then a Saints third down run that produced a first down kept the Titans from getting the ball back, leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Saints quarterback Derek Carr threw for 305 yards in the contest. "It was not good enough," Titans Coach Mike Vrabel said. "If we want to be a great defense, we have to be a great defense all the time. … I thought we'd get a stop."

Hopkins Debut

Veteran receiver DeAndre Hopkins led the team with seven catches for 65 yards. Behind Hopkins, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (4 catches, 58 yards) and Treylon Burks (2 catches, 18 yards) were the team's most productive receivers. Hopkins was targeted 13 times in the contest, and Tannehill was twice intercepted on balls targeting Hopkins, so there's still room for improvement in the Tannehill-to-Hopkins connection. "We can't make excuses," Hopkins said. "I can't make excuses for myself. Obviously, I have to go out and do some things better. I hold myself accountable."

Money Folk

The Titans signed veteran kicker Nick Folk to come in and make kicks, and that's exactly what he did on Sunday. Folk was a perfect 5-of-5, making kicks from 27, 29, 31, 45 and 50 yards. Folk was hoping for a chance to kick one more football at the end, but he didn't get that opportunity. "(My job) is to make field goals, or extra points," Folk said. "The most important thing is to get a W. We came up a point short today. You are always hoping to get a chance at the end there, and that was kind of it."

Too Many Mistakes

The Titans had a great chance to sneak out of New Orleans with a win. The Superdome was raucous on Sunday, and the Saints are going to win a lot of games because of their defense. Still, this one was there for the taking, and the Titans let it get away. The three interceptions proved to be killer, along with the red zone failures. There was a blocked punt, lapses on defense, and ill-timed penalties and missed opportunities to make plays. On this day, the truth is the Titans did just enough to cost themselves a win. Still, there wasn't a lot of sulking in the locker room afterward. "I am confident that we are going to bounce back after this," defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons said. "There is no frustration – I am not frustrated at all. I am motivated because there were a lot of positives in this game. We are going to stick together, and we are going to work to find a way to win next week."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Saints in Week 1 at Caesars Superdome Stadium.

The Tennessee Titans travel to New Orleans for their Week 1 game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome. (Tennessee Titans)

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