NASHVILLE – The Titans lost to the Saints 38-28 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 the Houston Texans.
Derick Roberson's Impact
Titans rookie linebacker Derick Roberson looked like he'd been shot out of a cannon on several plays. Roberson, who's spent 10 weeks on the practice squad and three more on the team's inactive list, sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees twice on Sunday and he was on Brees when defensive lineman Jurrell Casey recorded another sack. Brees had been sacked just nine times in nine games coming in. "I just told them to give me an opportunity, and I was going to make the best of it, I am not going to let you down," Roberson said. "So that's what I did. And to get to a Hall of Famer like Drew Brees, it was amazing."
Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe had five catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints, with one score coming on a 36-yard grab, the other on an acrobatic seven-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. On a day when the Saints limited A.J. Brown's impact (he had one catch for 34 yards, plus a 49-yard rushing touchdown), Sharpe stepped up. "Any time you get an opportunity to make a play for the team," Sharpe said, "I just try and put my best foot forward and try and help the team. I want guys to be able to count on me."
Poor Kick Coverage
The Titans lost momentum several times after scores because their kick coverage wasn't very good against the Saints. New Orleans return man Deonte Harris average 37.5 yards on four returns, including a 47-yard return. While new Titans kicker Greg Joseph struggled to produce touchbacks, the coverage teams failed to keep the Saints from starting off with desirable field position, and it led to scores for the Saints.
Logan Ryan's Tenacity
Titans cornerback Logan Ryan was in a cast last season for the team's win-and-in season-finale after suffering a broken fibula a few weeks earlier. So Ryan is playing like he's making up for lost time and his performance on Sunday just continued what he's done all season. Ryan was feisty and physical against the Saints, racking up seven tackles. He came close to forcing a fumble. Sure, Saints receiver Michael Thomas made a lot of plays against the Titans all over the field – he makes plays on everybody – but Ryan was scratching and clawing.
Another 14-Point Swing
In the past two weeks, the Titans have seen some game-changing plays go against them. A week ago, tight end Anthony Firkser had a ball dislodged near the goal-line that was intercepted by the Texans and a big return set up a score on the other end. It changed the game early. On Sunday, a big completion from Ryan Tannehill to Kalif Raymond ended in bang-bang fashion, as the ball came out and the Saints turned it into six points the other way. It was another critical 14-point swing for the Titans.
Shaky Pass Protection
The Titans had protected Tannehill well in recent weeks. After a six-sack game in Indianapolis, Tannehill wasn't sacked at all in a win at Oakland, and he was sacked just twice against the Texans. But Tannehill was sacked five times on Sunday, which put the Titans in long down-and-distance situations. Sure, Tannehill was guilty of holding the football too long on a few occasions. But offensive linemen were also guilty of missing blocks, putting Tannehill in harm's way. The Titans need to get this cleaned up, and Tannehill needs to help himself. "I think there were a couple plays in the first half where I could have just (thrown the ball away)," Tannehill said. "There were some I don't think I could've gotten out, (but) there were a couple I could've probably found a way to just (throw it away) and live for another day."
The Tennessee Titans take on the New Orleans Saints in Week 16 of the 2019 season at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)