NASHVILLE – The Titans lost to the Texans 22-13 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest….
OK, there's no way getting around this one. Ryan Tannehill had a tough day at the office. The Titans quarterback threw four interceptions in the contest, and they were drive killers, and momentum stoppers. After the game, Tannehill sacked himself. Asked if there were communication issues with the receivers, Tannehill accepted the blame. "At the end of the day, it all falls squarely on me, and I have to be better," Tannehill said. "We shot ourselves in the foot all day, and it has to be better. And it starts with me." Through 11 games this season, Tannehill has 13 touchdowns vs 12 interceptions. Tannehill threw just seven interceptions in 16 games last season with the Titans, and just six in 12 games in 2019. "At the end of the day, I expect better from myself," Tannehill said. "And I need to be better for this team."
Titans Gave the Texans a Reason to Believe
Similar to the team's Week 4 loss to a Jets team that's now 2-8, the Titans opened the door for the Texans, and gave a 1-8 team reason to believe. Leading up to Sunday's game, the Texans had lost their last four road games by scores of 40-0 (at Buffalo), 31-3 (at Indianapolis), 31-5 (at Arizona) and 17-9 (at Miami). But the Texans jumped ahead 9-0 at halftime in this one, and that lead grew to 19-0. The Titans waited too long to get in it. "Our message was to make them not interested to play in this game," Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons said. "We didn't execute our keys, which was to create the energy, create the juice. We started off slow … and we didn't come into this game like we wanted to."
It's getting ridiculous, all these Titans injuries. When the Titans added Bud Dupree to their Injured Reserve list on Saturday, he had plenty of company. Leading up to the game, on Friday, Titans HC Mike Vrabel rolled off a list of seven players who were out for Sunday's game. Well, the injuries kept coming on Sunday. Receiver A.J. Brown suffered hand and chest injuries, and the latter of the two ended his day. Defensive lineman Teair Tart was also carted off the field on a day when receiver Marcus Johnson was lost for a hamstring injury, and defensive back Chris Jackson (foot) and outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi (hamstring) were also injured. Will it ever end? Man, the Titans desperately need a bye week.
Elijah Molden's Spark
On a day when the Texans defense sacked Tannehill twice while intercepting him four times, the Titans just couldn't come up with game-changing plays when they needed them. The Titans did make some plays, however, and one guy I noticed time and again was rookie defensive back Elijah Molden. In the fourth quarter, Molden made a great tackle to force a Texans punt. I jotted Molden's name down several times on Sunday, in fact, for nice plays. Molden, the team's third-round draft pick, tallied six tackles and a quarterback hit in the contest. Molden seems to be getting better each week. After the game, Molden said the Titans have to do to put this loss behind them and get ready for the Patriots. "I think it has definitely lit a fire beneath our feet," Molden said. "I really want to get in the building tomorrow and get after this week more than anything."
Getting Thin at Receiver
Earlier I mentioned the injuries to Brown and Johnson. Those two are just the latest at a position that's been hit hard by injuries. Remember, Julio Jones is currently on IR, along with Racey McMath, and earlier this year the team lost receiver Cameron Batson for the season with an injury. On Sunday, that forced rookie Dez Fitzpatrick into action, and he was needed to make plays. Fitzpatrick, the team's fourth-round draft pick who was recently promoted to the practice squad, caught three passes for 35 yards against the Texans, including one for an 18-yard touchdown. Late in the game, the Titans were trying to rally with Fitzpatrick, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Chester Rogers on the field. "I know our team believes a lot in the next man up mentality, so I know I had to prepare all week like I was going to play as much as I did today," Fitzpatrick said. "When the opportunity was afforded to me today, I just took advantage of it. I still had a lot of mistakes out there that I'd like to have back, so I have to grow from this."
Overall, It Was Simply Bad Football
Look at the stat sheet after this one and you'll shake your head. The Titans outgained the Texans 420 to 190 in total yards, had 26 first downs to 15 for the Texans, and they had a huge advantage in yards through the air (323 to 107). So, how did the Titans lose? Well, let's start with the five turnovers, including the four interceptions. Titans return man Chester Rogers let a punt go off his lower leg, which was recovered by the Texans at the Tennessee five. It led to a touchdown. The Titans also lost a chance for points because of an intentional grounding penalty, and the Titans couldn't get a yard on a fourth-and-one early. Heck, the Titans scored one of their touchdowns by recovering one of their own fumbles in the end zone. It was that kind of day. Left tackle Taylor Lewan, with an expletive, described it best when saying, "They took advantage of our (crappy) football." The Titans better clean things up before next week's trip to face the Patriots.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans in Week 11 at Nissan Stadium.