HOUSTON —** The Titans missed out on a golden opportunity here on Sunday.
As a result, they're going to have to dig themselves out of an early hole in the AFC South.
"We just have to keep fighting," Titans running back DeMarco Murray said after the team's 27-20 loss to the Houston Texans. "It's no time to panic. We know what we are doing wrong, and we have to consistently do the right thing. But nobody is pouting, and no one is going to cave in. We just have to do better.
"There is no doubt we have the right group of guys, the right coaching staff. We just have to make the plays. The players on the field have to make the plays. It's up to us."
After falling behind at the start, the Titans weren't able to close the deal after rallying to tie the game in the second half.
The Titans, Colts and Jaguars are now all 1-3, behind the first-place Texans, who improved to 3-1.
"The good news is we are capable of winning these games, we are just finding ways to lose them with just a handful of plays,'' coach Mike Mularkey said. "I'm talking just a handful. With three or four plays a game we'd be in a different spot than we are.
"I liked a lot of things this team did, coming back. This football team has a lot of heart. This is a good football team that's not making enough plays to get over the hump, but we're close."
The Titans aren't there yet, however.
In back-to-back weeks, the Titans have fallen behind and put themselves in a position that's proven to be too much to overcome.
The Titans fell down 14-0, and 17-3 early as the Texans scored on their first three possessions.
Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler threw touchdown passes to C.J. Fiedorowicz (14 yards) and Will Fuller (five yards), and after Titans kicker Ryan Succop's 48-yard field goal, Texans kicker Nick Novak connected from 53 yards to make it 17-3 early in the second quarter.
"The slow start got us,'' cornerback Perrish Cox said. "You can't get down 14-0 from the jump."
But the Titans battled back.
A two-yard touchdown run by Murray capped a five-play, 78-yard drive with 11:21 remaining in the first half. The highlight of the drive was a 60-yard pass from quarterback Marcus Mariota to receiver Rishard Matthews.
Later in the second quarter, Murray scored again, this time on a one-yard run. It capped off a nine-play, 39-yard drive that was set up by a Jason McCourty interception.
The Texans took a 20-17 lead into halftime on a 45-yard kick by Novak.
At the start of the second half, the Titans put together a 13-play, 59-yard drive to start the third quarter, and tied the game at 20-20 on a 26-yard field goal by Succop.
But the Texans turned in a big play at the end of the third quarter when Fuller returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown, which made it 27-20.
After a fourth-and-1 stop, the Titans had a chance to tie it late, but a drive stalled at the Houston 28-yard line as Mariota was unable to connect with receiver Andre Johnson.
Mariota finished the day 12-of-28 for 192 yards, and an interception. Murray finished with 95 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
The Titans travel to Miami next Sunday to face the Dolphins.
"We are close, and we have to continue to believe that,'' Mariota said. "It's a process, and we need to believe in each other, stay together and just go back to work.
"The mindset does not change. We just have to continue to work, correct our mistakes and get ready for Miami."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans in Week 4 action at NRG Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)