GREEN BAY – The Titans lost to the Green Bay Packers 40-14 on Sunday night at Lambeau Field.
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 at the Houston Texans:
There was a bundle of energy on the field leading up to Sunday night's game in the snow. But the Titans quickly found themselves down 6-0, and that became 12-0. Early in the second quarter the Packers had a 19-0 lead, and it forced the Titans into a game of catch-up they wouldn't win. "I don't think you can (start like) that against anybody," Titans Coach Mike Vrabel said. "The mistakes that we made and the start that we had, is just not going to be good enough." While the defense was giving up points, the offense was stalling. The Titans punted on their first possession, Ryan Tannehill threw a pick on the second one, and the Titans then went three-and-out on a drive that went 17 yards in reverse on their third offensive possession. It sent the Packers cruising. "We definitely need to start faster, and when you play (against) a good offense you are going to have to score points," said Tannehill, whose 45-yard touchdown sprint was one of the game's few highlights. "And we didn't do that."
Shaky Calls, and Penalties
The Titans didn't lose Sunday night because of the officiating, or because of the weather. They lost because they got outplayed, and simply got beat. But there were at least three calls that raised some eyebrows while drawing criticism from fans about the officiating. Defensive back Joshua Kalu was called for lining up offsides on a play when the Titans blocked a field goal, although replays suggested otherwise. On a 59-yard run by Green Bay's Aaron Jones, replays also showed he clearly stepped out of bounds long before the end of the run, which set up a score. Titans linebacker Rashaan Evans was flagged for an illegal use of the hands penalty that kept a Green Bay scoring drive alive. "The No.1 thing is not to cause any penalties to hurt the team obviously," Evans said. "But it's one of those things where you have to keep playing."
Darrynton Evans on Returns
The good news is rookie Darrynton Evans had a chance to return six kickoffs. The bad news is rookie return man Darrynton Evans had a chance to return six kickoffs. Evans, who returned recently after being sidelined for a long stretch, showed some burst in the return game in just his second game back. Evans had 145 yards worth of returns, for a 24.2-yard average. Even on a slick field, he looked explosive with the football in his hands. But the Titans need to do a better job of keeping the opposing team's kickoffs to a minimum.
More Issues on Defense
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes. Packers receiver Davante Adams caught three of the touchdown tosses, and Green Bay running back AJ Dillon ran for 124 yards and two scores. On too many plays, Packers were streaking down the field with plenty of space around them, and on other occasions the Titans were sloppy with their tackling. Vrabel didn't blame the field conditions. "We just have to understand where our help is, and play to our help," Vrabel said, "and be able to tackle. … When the footing and the weather is what it is, the fundamentals are going to be maybe what carries you through, whether that is on defense or taking care of the football, or protecting, a lot of things. And none of it was good enough."
David Long Jr.
As previously mentioned, it wasn't a banner day for the defense, as the Packers racked up 448 yards of offense and 27 first downs while holding the ball for 36:37 of the game's 60 minutes. Linebacker David Long Jr., however, continues to make the most of his opportunities. Long played all 66 snaps on defense, and he tied for the team lead with nine tackles, including a tackle for a loss, against the Packers. Titans safety Kevin Byard also had nine tackles while playing every snap. "We knew what we were going up against, and they made some plays," Long said after the game. "All in all, we need to come back and play better defense as a whole. We have to come back and play better ball." Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler had an interception in the contest.
Bounce Back Time
The Titans seemed more down in their post-game interviews than they've been after any game this season, probably because they knew they'd let an opportunity slip away. But not all is lost. Far from it. Yes, the Titans missed out on a chance to win the AFC South on Sunday night, but that same opportunity remains next week in Houston. A win next Sunday, and the Titans will be AFC South champs for the first time since 2008. Titans tight end Jonnu Smith said the team needs to have a "short-term memory." Byard agreed. "It is very important that we try and hurry up and try and regroup and try and forget this game honestly," Byard said. "Because one of our goals we set at the beginning of the year is still there. We have to find a way to regroup and go out there and try and win the division next week vs Houston."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 16 at Lambeau Field.