KANSAS CITY —** Preseason games always seem to provide ammunition for optimists, and pessimists.
Friday night's Titans-Chiefs game was no different.
After falling behind 17-0, the Titans lost 34-10 to the Chiefs in a game that was suspended with 3:50 remaining because of the weather. At the end, the turf was as sloppy as the early performance.
The first-team defense had trouble getting stops, in part because of sloppy tackling. At the same time, the offense struggled out of the gate.
But the Titans – and quarterback Marcus Mariota -- provided some positive signs in rallying at the end of the first half to cut the margin to 17-10 before back-ups took over and the score got one-sided in the second half.
"Obviously we didn't start the way we wanted to,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "A lot of it was because of mistakes we made. There were too many penalties, we fumbled the ball one time, we jumped offsides, and we missed tackles. Those are the things that you can't do, especially on the road. But I do like the way we responded, and we were able to get back in the game."
Mariota finished the contest 7-of-11 for 99 yards, with a passer rating of 92.6. He guided a 7-play, 43-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first half before giving way to back-up Zach Mettenberger. Mariota also ran three times for 22 yards.
Mariota connected with receiver Kendall Wright three times for 60 yards in the game, when running back Dexter McCluster also stood out. Running back Antonio Andrews provided the team's only touchdown with a two-yard touchdown run.
"We have to clean some things up,'' tight end Delanie Walker said. "We made too many mental mistakes. We have to do a lot of things better if we're going to be a better team. We answered later, but we have to start out faster."
Cornerback Perrish Cox was among the bright spots on defense – he recorded an interception for the second straight week.
But the Titans didn't have any luck slowing down Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who completed 16-of-18 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
In the second half the Titans were outscored 17-0 as quarterbacks Zach Mettenberger and Charlie Whitehurst finished the contest. Mettenberger completed 3-of-11 passes for 38 yards while Whitehurst was 2 of 3 for 11 yards and an interception in the game.
The Titans wrap up the preseason on Thursday against the Vikings at Nissan Stadium.
"We started slow, obviously,'' linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "I was very disappointed about that, but I thought we handled the adversity well and responded. We got ourselves back in the game by making some plays. That's something positive we can take out of this, but we definitely have to start a little bit better.
"We still have work to do and a lot to improve upon. We're still a young team. We're still making some mistakes, but I'm enthusiastic about where we're going."
The Titans take on the Chiefs in Week 3 of the preseason in Kansas City. (Donn Jones, AP)