INDIANAPOLIS – The Titans lost 23-16 to the Colts here on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest:
Red Zone Failures
The Titans were just 1-of-4 scoring touchdowns in the red zone on Sunday, and it came back to haunt them. The biggest failure came on 4th and 1 from the Indianapolis five-yard line with 8:03 left in the contest, and the Titans trailing 20-16. That's when running back Derrick Henry was stuffed for no gain. "We have to put points on the board – we have to get in the end zone," said Henry, who ran for just 43 yards on 13 carries on Sunday. "When we get down there … we didn't execute well. We have to be better. I have to be better."
DeAndre Hopkins Success
Receiver DeAndre Hopkins had his best day as a Titan on Sunday. Hopkins had a team-high eight catches for 140 yards, including a 36-yard catch. It seemed like every time quarterback Ryan Tannehill was looking for someone to make a play, Hopkins was the target. "I think the first play of the game was a pass – it got us going, got us in a rhythm," Hopkins said. "But we didn't do enough to win the game, so something didn't work." In five games this season, Hopkins now has 26 catches for 356 yards. "He came up big today, made some big plays for us throughout the game," Tannehill, who was 23-of-34 for 264 yards in the game, said of Hopkins. "We just have to keep building with him, and get the other guys involved as well."
Porous Run Defense
The Titans take pride in stopping the run. On Sunday, however, the defense didn't hold up well in run defense. Colts running back Zack Moss ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries on a day when the Colts managed to pile up 193 yards on the ground. Moss scored on a 56-yard run, and the Colts averaged 5.7 yards per carry as a team. "We just got our ass whooped, from the starting whistle to the end," outside linebacker Arden Key said. "We couldn't stop the run, and we couldn't get off the field on third down. We came out flat, and they just beat our ass out there."
Third Down Struggles
Yes, as Key mentioned, third-down defense was an issue for the Titans. The Colts converted 8-of-13 third down opportunities (61.5%), including some big conversions late. When Gardner Minshew II replaced Anthony Richardson at quarterback, the Titans allowed him to get way too comfortable. "After every play," Titans linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair said, "it seemed like somebody was saying, 'My bad." Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons said the Titans need to keep that from happening again. "At the end of the day, "my bad' isn't good enough in this league," Simmons said. "Because 'my bads' get you beat, as you saw today. We have to be better."
Kristian Fulton's Penalties
Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton expressed some frustration after Sunday's game. Fulton was twice called for defensive pass interference, and at critical times. The last one came in the final five minutes of the contest, when the Colts were facing a third-and-12. "(The receiver) pushed me over – I thought I was square," Fulton said. "That's part of the game, but me personally, I thought it was a bad call. That's life as a DB. … I felt like I was very sound today. Obviously they made some plays or whatever, but it's hard when you have to play against the refs and the receivers." Titans Coach Mike Vrabel said he talked with Fulton at the half, and considered sitting him at one point. "There was thought,' Vrabel said. "I wanted Kristian to challenge and do his job. … We have to make sure that we keep our eyes on our man, and not in the backfield."
Tyjae Spears Touchdown
Nick Folk is a reliable kicker, we've established that by now. Folk was 3-of-3 again on Sunday, and he's now a perfect 13-of-13 on the season. The Titans – and the team's fans – would love to see Folk kick more extra points, and fewer field goals, of course. The team's only touchdown of the day on Sunday was produced by rookie running back Tyjae Spears, who took a Ryan Tannehill handoff running from the left side to the right. Spears took it the distance on his 19-yard run, getting some good blocks in the process. "Whenever you score, in your eyes, it's a collective thing," Spears said. "There were a lot of people you could (credit). … But it felt good to score – I hadn't scored since the Cotton Bowl (while in college at Tulane), so it felt really good." Spears said he planned to give the football to his father, "because he's been with me from the start."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium.