EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Titans lost to the New York Jets 27-24 in overtime on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest:
Look at the stat sheet, and it's hard to understand how the Titans lost. The Titans outgained the Jets (430-355), had almost twice as many first downs (30 to 16), and they dominated time of possession (40:42 to 29:03). Here's how the Titans lost – they settled for too many field goals, they were 5-of-19 on third down (26.3 percent) and they were just 2-of-5 in red zone efficiency. They allowed the Jets to gain some confidence, and they fought back. Plus, the Titans defense gave up way too many big plays, including a 53-yard touchdown pass from Zach Wilson to Corey Davis and a 54-yard-pass to receiver Keelan Cole. The Titans lost because they didn't make plays when they needed to most, and as a result they ended up losing to a team they had no business losing to, and it puts an early stain on the season.
Once again, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill turned into a punching bag in this one. Tannehill was sacked seven times, and he's now been sacked 17 times in four games. At this pace, he'll be sacked 72 times this season. The Titans better get things cleaned up if they want to keep Tannehill to play in all 17 games. Sure, there were occasions when Tannehill possibly could've gotten the ball out sooner, but on most plays he had little time to work. "Obviously, I had a ton of respect coming in for this front, the way they played on tape showed up," Tannehill said. "The way they pushed the pocket and got after the passer. Knew it was going to be a physical, tough game up front, but you never go into a game thinking they're going to take a bunch of hits, or anything like that."
Once again, Titans running back Derrick Henry was a workhorse. Henry carried the ball 33 times for 157 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 20 yards. Henry hammered away throughout the game, and it looked like he might bust a long one late. In the end, it was just a great performance in a loss, something Henry isn't very happy about. After four games this season, Henry has 510 rushing yards – he's on pace for 2,168 rushing yards on the season. "We just have to play better," Henry said. "We're not looking for excuses or pointing fingers. We have to play better. We have to finish drives as a unit and play better. That's all it is."
Henry wasn't the only back who made a big contribution in this one. Time and again running back Jeremy McNichols stepped up and made plays for the Titans. With the team's receiving corps depleted with injuries, McNichols led the team with eight catches for 74 yards. McNichols had catches of 23 and 28 yards, and he made some nice moves to get extra yards after catches. He had a good day on a tough day for the team. "When those opportunities come, you have to make them," McNichols said. "I'm all about winning. Whatever it takes to win at the end of the day, that's my job and that's why I'm here."
There were some nice defensive plays made by the Titans in this one. Linebacker Harold Landry was all over the place, with a sack, three tackles for a loss, and a team-high seven tackles. Defensive lineman Denico Autry had two tackles for a loss, and cornerback Kristian Fulton had an interception. But the Titans weren't good enough on defense against a rookie quarterback who got a lot more comfortable than he did in other game this season. Wilson threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns, and the Titans gave up the previously mentioned big plays to Davis and Cole. The Jets scored three touchdowns against the Titans after averaging just 6.7 ppg in the first three contest. On this day, it was just enough to get them beat.
Oh man, this keeps getting worse. The Titans played this one without receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Brown, linebacker Bud Dupree, defensive lineman Larrell Murchison, defensive back Chris Jackson and punter Brett Kern, among others. The sight of one Titan after the next going down on Sunday wasn't a good one. Left guard Rodger Saffold didn't return after his concussion, and neither did tight end Tommy Hudson after his ankle injury. Tackle Taylor Lewan, center Ben Jones and receiver Josh Reynolds all had to be tended to on the field as well, but eventually came back. As a collective group, the Titans players and coaches who made the trip to MetLife Stadium didn't get it done on Sunday. Now, the team would like to kill off this injury bug. "We'll find 22 guys, 11 guys on offense and defense and special teams," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "It's all part of it, it's all part of the job, but I'm not going to sit there – nobody is going to feel sorry for us, nobody."