NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In each corner of the Titans locker room at Nissan Stadium, players stood up and took ownership for mistakes.
Following a gut-wrenching loss to the Buffalo Bills, most occurred in the game's second half, when the Titans let another lead slip away.
Four games into the season, it's an act that's already getting old. While it's clear the Titans are an improved football team, right now, they don't have a lot to show for it.
Sunday's 14-13 loss to the Bills was especially tough to take since the Titans led most of the way. It dropped the team to 1-3, and extended the losing streak to three games.
"It just feels like déjà vu, man. It's the same thing, over and over, like a broken record, talking about the same thing,'' Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan said. "It's hard. It's really hard.
"At some point it is going to turn, I really believe that. We just have to stay faithful and be diligent in the way we approach it. We can't give in. When you are losing this close, you have to be optimistic. We are one quarter in, and we have three months of football left. That's a lot of football, and soon, I hope we are talking about going on a run."
The Titans were in control for most of Sunday's game. The Titans went ahead 10-0 midway through the third quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Antonio Andrews, and with the defense dominating, it seemed like that might be enough.
The Bills fought back, however. Then, with just 5:25 remaining, the Bills took the lead for the first time on a two-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyrod Taylor to receiver Chris Hogan.
The Titans had a chance to win it late after a defensive stop. They got the ball back at their own 31-yard line with 1:41 left. But Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was intercepted by Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore on first down while attempting to connect with receiver Kendall Wright, and the Bills ran out the clock.
Mariota blamed himself.
"It's that point in the game where you have to try and get one and I thought we had a chance on it, I just didn't see the corner,'' Mariota said. "It's tough."
The Titans outgained the Bills 276-209, and had the ball 35:31 of the game's 60 minutes. The Bills managed just 51 yards in the first half, and didn't cross midfield until the third quarter.
"We just have to finish,'' tackle Taylor Lewan said. "We could very easily be sitting here at 4-0 right now, and that is the most disheartening thing about it. This team is going to fight. We have to play 60 full minutes, and it's a matter of finishing."
After a season-opening win at Tampa Bay, the Titans have dropped games against the Browns, Colts and Bills.
The Titans led the Colts 27-14 on September 27, but lost that game 35-33. The Titans had a 13-7 fourth quarter lead against the Bills, but allowed an eight-play, 80-yard drive late.
"We've had two games now where we feel like we've dominated the games, but we haven't won. We have to get over the hump. We have to win those games. We're close, but we're not there,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Buffalo Bills in Week 5 at Nissan Stadium (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
"Very clearly we are all frustrated. We are 1-3 after four games and we feel like we are a better football team than that. So what do you do? We are not going to throw our hands up. We are going to go back to work tomorrow and correct those mistakes and we're going to win one of these games, and then we're going to win another. But make no mistake: We are close. If you look at the tape you can see that."
Mariota completed 21-of-32 passes for 187 yards in the game, with no touchdowns and one interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 68.1.
The Titans took a 10-0 lead midway through the third quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Antonio Andrews, which came on a second-and-goal. It capped off a seven-play, 39-yard drive that was set up by a fumble recovery by linebacker Steve Johnson. Rookie fullback Jalston Fowler forced the fumble on a punt return by Buffalo's Denarius Moore.
Succop kicked field goals of 21 and 41 yards, with the second one giving the Titans a 13-7 lead with 9:36 remaining.
But the Titans couldn't hold on.
After trailing throughout, Buffalo's comeback was led by Taylor. The Titans had the Bills backed up on their own 7 and facing a third-and-23 at the start of the game-winning drive, but Taylor scrambled for a 24-yard gain, and a horse collar penalty by Titans linebacker Zach Brown set the go-ahead drive in motion.
Taylor also connected with Hogan on a 46-yard completion on the same drive.
Taylor scored on a 22-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to get Buffalo on the board.
The Titans dominated on defense early, forcing three consecutive three-and-outs before the Bills got their initial first down, with 7:10 remaining in the second quarter. Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and Morgan finished with 1.5 sacks each.
Yet no one was in the mood to celebrate afterward.
Titans center Brian Schwenke said the team needs to start closing out games.
"Personally, I think it's a mindset,'' Schwenke said. "I think there are certain teams, like the Patriots, that just expect to win the game. NFL games are close all the time. I think it's just a mindset. All 22 guys on the field have to have it in their heads, "We're going to win this game. … We didn't want to lose this game. We should have won this game, but didn't."
The Titans face the Dolphins next Sunday at Nissan Stadium.