NASHVILLE – The Titans lost to the Browns 41-35 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the game as the team begins to turn its attention to next Sunday's game vs the Jacksonville Jaguars:
Reliable Corey Davis
Receiver Corey Davis continues to come up big for the Titans. Davis caught 11 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Davis now has four 100-yard games on the season. Through 12 games, Davis leads the Titans in catches (53) and receiving yards (801). Titans running back Derrick Henry praised Davis after the game for his effort, and consistency. "Corey is a big playmaker for us," Henry said. "He does a lot of great things being a receiver, catching, touchdowns, yards, blocking. I think his blocking is, you know, most underrated. People don't really appreciate it, but I know I appreciate it. He does a great job. He's big for us. Been big for us. That's the type of guy Corey is." Davis, who missed two games earlier this season, said he's playing with great confidence. Davis was targeted 12 times by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and he caught 11 of them. "I've been confident," Davis said. "(Just) go out there and play fast and physical and with a free mind."
The Titans didn't give themselves much of a chance on Sunday, because the defense struggled mightily. The Browns scored on their first six possessions, including five touchdowns. By halftime, the Browns had already piled up 344 yards and 22 first downs while building a 38-7 lead. While the Titans showed some spunk in the second half, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns in the game. The Titans didn't sack him a single time, and they hardly pressured him. And the third-down issues for the Titans defense returned, as they allowed Cleveland to convert 10-of-16 (62.5 percent). "Bad communication, bad execution," Titans safety Kevin Byard said of the struggles. "You go out there and play like that you got your behind whooped. Credit to Cleveland, they were more prepared and coached better and played better."
Too Many Mistakes
The Titans made things tough on themselves with mistakes as well. Running back Derrick Henry fumbled early, and that led to a Cleveland score, and receiver A.J. Brown also fumbled twice (the Titans recovered one of them). Receiver Cameron Batson mishandled a snap when he lined up in the Wildcat, and it led to a loss of five. There were dropped passes, and penalties. On the day, the Titans were penalized five times for 52 yards, but they had some big ones, including two 15-yard penalties by linebacker Rashaan Evans. Perhaps the most costly blunder came late in the third quarter, and we're going to discuss that next…
After falling behind 38-7, most folks thought the Titans were done, including me. But the Titans scored two touchdowns in the first 5:52 of the third quarter, and suddenly things got interesting. After the Browns tacked on three more to make it 41-21, the Titans had a chance to really make it interesting late. But on a first and 10 play from the Cleveland 17, Titans receiver Adam Humphries let a catchable ball bounce off him while inside the 10-yard line, and the ball ended up in the arms of a Browns defender. It was a drive killer, and a momentum killer. While the Titans managed to get a pair of scores late, this one proved costly. "That one was going to make it hard," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "Unfortunately, that one there, the interception kind of put a halt to the momentum that we had building there in the second half and really just cost us just the time and the not being able to score. Everything has got to be perfect. Everything would've had to have been right. It rarely ever is in football and in life."
Heads Up Pruitt
After missing the previous three weeks with an injury, tight end MyCole Pruitt returned, and he showed up in a big way. Pruitt scored on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill early in the third quarter, and a few minutes later he rose to the occasion again, scooping up an A.J. Brown fumble at the three-yard line and taking it in for a touchdown. Vrabel applauded Pruitt for his effort on a day when fellow tight end Anthony Firkser also caught five passes for 51 yards. Titans tight end Jonnu Smith did not play because of a knee injury. "Coach (Vrabel) is always preaching effort and finish, finish longer than the guy with the ball," Pruitt said after the game. "Get there and be in the right spot, and you get rewarded sometimes for that."
One Quarter to Go
The result hurt, and looking at the AFC South standings at the end of the day should provide a gut-punch, and an incentive. The Colts found a way to win at Houston, and now the two teams are tied at 8-4 with four games left to play. While the Titans gave away their one-game lead, they still control their own destiny in their bid for the AFC South crown. The Titans currently hold the tiebreaker over the Colts because of the division record for the two teams. "We'll see how this team responds," Tannehill said. "I believe in our guys, I believe in our leadership and our culture and the way which like to play. Now it's matter of putting it to the test and making it happen."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 13 at Nissan Stadium.