Titans Fail to finish in Season-Opening Loss to Vikings



NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** A year ago, the Titans began the season with a dandy.

On Sunday, they produced a dud.

A nice start faded into a disappointing finish as the Titans lost 25-16 to the Vikings at Nissan Stadium. It ended a streak of three consecutive wins on the NFL's Kickoff Weekend.

"Turnovers, self-inflicted wounds,'' tight end Delanie Walker said afterward. "That's why we're sitting here talking about how this one got away. But we have each other's back. This is not the way we wanted to start this year, but it's only one game. We'll overcome this."

The Titans dominated early, but mistakes and turnovers doomed them in the second half as the Vikings took control of the contest, spoiling the team's season opener.

The Titans looked good early while surging to a 10-0 lead at halftime.

After 28-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop made it 3-0, running back DeMarco Murray provided a big highlight – and a big touchdown – late in the first half when he scored on a six-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Marcus Mariota.

With the Titans facing a second-and-goal, Murray caught a ball in the flat, turned upfield and headed toward the end zone. Vikings defensive back Terence Newman was there waiting for him, but Murray hurdled him and landed in the end zone for a touchdown, making it 10-0.

Murray was swarmed by teammates on the field and on the sideline, as the Nissan Stadium crowd went wild.

When Vikings kicker Blair Walsh misfired on a 56-yard field goal on the final play of the half, the Titans were feeling great.

Coach Mike Mularkey delivered this message at the half: "Finish, finish this game. That's one thing we failed to do last year."

But things changed in the second half as the Vikings scored 25 consecutive points, thanks to some costly turnovers by the Titans.

After a pair of field goals from Walsh, disaster struck for the Titans – twice.

Facing pressure, Mariota was intercepted by Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, who returned it 77 yards for a touchdown.

After a 45-yard field goal by Walsh gave the Vikings a 15-10 lead, Mariota and Murray botched an exchange, and Vikings defensive lineman Danielle Hunter picked the ball up and raced 24 yards into the end zone to make it 22-10. A 30-yard field goal by Walsh with 2:36 left made it 25-10.

Mularkey called the turnovers "catastrophic."

"It's frustrating,'' Mariota said. "It is something we can learn from. We really just kind of beat ourselves today. We were moving the ball efficiently, and we ended up giving them 14 points and we just can't do that."

A four-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Murray with 28 seconds left made it 25-16.

Mariota completed 25-of-41 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns in the contest, with an interception. His favorite target was rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe, who hauled in seven passes for 76 yards.

Murray ran for 42 yards on 13 carries, while rookie Derrick Henry had just five carries for three yards. Both players turned in big plays catching the football. Before Murray's highlight-reel dive into the end zone, Henry caught a 29-yard pass on an earlier drive.

The Titans shut down Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who managed just 31 yards on 19 carries. But quarterback Shaun Hill was efficient, completing 18-of-33 passes for 236 yards.

Mularkey said he was happy with the performance of his defense, which didn't give up a touchdown.

"Our defense gave us a chance,'' Mularkey said.

On this day, however, it wasn't good enough.

"Definitely frustrating,'' Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "Definitely not what we expected.  We had high expectations of coming into this locker room with a victory. But it's the NFL. Crazy stuff happens. That's what this NFL is all about. There is a lot of adversity that you have to face throughout the game. It's back-and-forth, and back-and-forth. And when they had a turnover, we just couldn't catch up. We have to learn from it and get ready for Detroit."

The Tennessee Titans kick off the 2016 season in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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