NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Titans showed up on Sunday expecting a fight against the Miami Dolphins.
As the Titans walked out of Nissan Stadium battered and bruised following a 38-10 loss, they were upset with themselves for not standing toe-to-toe with the opposition.
"We were the new kids at the school trying to take on the bully,'' Titans tight end Delanie Walker said, "and the bully beat us up. That is basically what happened."
No one tried to paint a pretty picture after Sunday's loss, because it would've been an impossible task. The Titans fell behind early, and never really challenged the Dolphins.
The Dolphins beat the Titans in every aspect of the game, and they beat them up in the process.
"They hit us in the mouth early, and we couldn't recover from that,'' Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "There was a different tone about them from what we saw them on film. We just caught them at the wrong time, I guess.
"As players, it's on us. We should've matched their intensity from the jump, but we didn't."
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn't happy after seeing his team fall behind 17-3 by halftime. The Titans trailed 24-3 in the third quarter. After trimming the lead to 24-10 on the final play of the third quarter, the Dolphins blew the game open with two fourth quarter touchdowns.
The Titans (1-4) have now lost four straight after a season opening with at Tampa Bay.
"Obviously very disappointing effort today,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We didn't get the job done. We weren't physical enough today, that's not something that we have been, and it was certainly disappointing.
"It hurts. No question it hurts. We've got to look at the film and correct it. There's no defense of what happened today. The only thing we can do is work hard and get better."
The Titans found themselves hurting mentally and physically after this one.
They lost to a Dolphins team playing its first game under interim head coach Dan Campbell, who replaced a fired Joe Philbin after three straight losses. With the win, Miami improved to 2-3.
The Titans also lost center Brian Schwenke to a season-ending leg injury. Whisenhunt said Schwenke's ankle was dislocated on the field. He was carted off, and replaced by rookie Andy Gallik.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered a left knee injury when he was hit low by Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon, who was penalized on the play. Mariota wore a brace on his left knee the rest of the game after the second quarter injury. The Titans were upset with the hit.
"I'm alright. It's frustrating, we just didn't play well today,'' Mariota said. "It's tough, but we've got to bounce back. We have another tough one coming up next week.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 at Nissan Stadium (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
"(The Dolphins) came out and played hard. They had an agenda; give them credit. We fought for most of the game, you know, you can't doubt that, we just have to continue to fight and grind. It's not going to be easy, we just have to continue find ways to improve and put this one in the past and get ready for next week."
The Titans face the Falcons next Sunday.
It was ugly from the start against the Dolphins, who took the opening kickoff and drove the ball 80 yards to take a 7-0 lead on a 22-yard run by Jarvis Landry. Following a 37-yard field goal by Titans kicker Ryan Succop, the Dolphins stretched the lead to 10-3 on a 30-yard field goal by Andrew Franks.
The Dolphins extended the lead to 17-3 in the second quarter on a seven-yard run by running back Lamar Miller, who racked up 99 yards by halftime and finished with a game-high 113 yards.
The Dolphins made it 24-3 when safety Reshad Jones intercepted a Mariota pass and raced 30 yards for a touchdown with 5:40 remaining in the third quarter.
Mariota was intercepted twice and sacked five times in the contest, including four times by Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake. Mariota suffered a left knee injury when he was hit low by Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon, and was tended to by trainers on the field, but Mariota stayed in the game.
Mariota finished the game 21-of-33 for 219 yards with a touchdown, and the two interceptions.
"Marcus is a great football player -- he has a lot of heart and courage,'' Walker said. "For him to take that punishment, it is hard to look him in the eye and tell him he played great when we didn't do our best to help protect him.
"He didn't even leave the game (after being injured). That speaks for itself."
The Titans tried to make things interesting after Mariota connected with running back Dexter McCluster for a three-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the third quarter, which made it 24-10. The Titans got the ball back just a few minutes later, at the Miami 27-yard line, early in the fourth quarter.
But on a throw to tight end Anthony Fasano, Mariota was intercepted by Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, which killed the momentum. The Dolphins added to the lead after the interception by scoring two touchdowns in the final quarter of play.
"It's frustrating, but we have to play hard and … we have to understand that this season is still so young,'' Titans tackle Taylor Lewan said. "One and four hurts, and it hurts to say, but it's not the end of the world.
"This team just has to keep fighting and as long as we do that, we could easily win games."