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Titans Can't Overcome Slow Start, Fall 31-20 to the Bengals


CINCINNATI – CINCINNATI – In the Queen City, the Titans looked unfit to be kings.

A listless, mistake-filled performance here on Sunday resulted in a second straight loss for the Titans, this time 31-20 to the Bengals.

"We have to stick together, and we have to change how we play, which would start with how we practice," Coach Mike Vrabel said. "Practicing better would lead to better performances, so that's the charge. We all can do more and have to do more when we lose.

"No matter who you are going against, if you play like (we did today) in the National Football League, you're going to lose."

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 18-of-30 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Titans running back Derrick Henry ran for 112 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

Titans receiver Corey Davis caught eight passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.

But the Titans made way many blunders, and as a result they dropped to 5-2 after five consecutive wins to open the season.

Now the Titans have a tough stretch of football coming up with the Bears, Colts (twice), Ravens and Browns on the horizon.

"We have to clean a lot of things up," said Tannehill, who threw an ugly interception to cap off the team's first offensive drive. "This is definitely not how we wanted to come out and play today. It started off with a turnover in the red zone. … Our guys kept battling, but we didn't do enough. We need to play consistent through four quarters."

The Titans lost receiver Adam Humphries in the first half, as he was carted off after suffering a concussion. Vrabel said Humphries was up and moving in the locker room after the game, but he still didn't feel well.

The Titans once again struggled on defense.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed 26-of-37 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns on a day when Cincinnati racked up 27 first downs and 367 yards of offense.

The Titans couldn't get off the field on third down, as the Bengals converted 10-of-15 (67 percent). It's been a problem all season for the Titans.

"It is definitely frustrating, but at the end of the day we can't get to a point where we are pointing fingers because we have to stick together – it's a long season," Titans safety Kevin Byard said. "Our goals are still right in front of us, so there's no reason to point fingers and blaming people and stuff like that. If anything, point the finger at yourself and that is what I am going to continue to do. I have to play better as a leader on this team to make sure we are in a position to win games and be better."

The Titans got off to another slow start, and they trailed 17-7 at the half.

The Bengals took an early 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal by kicker Randy Bullock.

The Titans put together a nice drive on their first possession, but it ended when Bengals safety Jessie Bates III intercepted Tannehill in the end zone. Tennessee's next possession ended with a missed 53-yard field goal by kicker Stephen Gostkowski, as the football bounced off the right upright.

It was a sign of things to come.

The Bengals went ahead 10-0 on a one-yard touchdown run by running back Samaje Perine before the Titans finally got moving.

A three-yard touchdown run by Henry with 6:04 remaining before halftime cut the lead to 10-7. Henry's run capped off a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was highlighted by seven runs from Henry, and gains of eight, nine, and 13 yards, among others.

But the Bengals answered back, scoring on a 12-yard touchdown run by Giovani Bernard to make it 17-7 with 32 seconds left before halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Bengals stretched their lead to 24-7 on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to receiver Tyler Boyd.

The Titans tried to get back in it late.

A nine-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to A.J. Brown cut the lead to 24-14, but after a long return on the ensuing kickoff, the Bengals surged back ahead 31-14 on a six-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to Bernard.

Tannehill connected with Davis for a 12-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 31-20 with 6:01 left.

But in the end, the Titans just couldn't catch up.

The Titans face the Bears next Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

"Flat out, we didn't play well enough to win," Davis said. "We have to clean up a lot of stuff, and that's what we're going to do this week.

"The most important thing is not to panic – it is a long season. We understand the type of guys we have, and we are not front-runners. We have a lot of guys who have been down before, not only in this game, but in life. It is as simple as going back to work and getting ready for Chicago."

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