Titans Find Plenty of Things to Correct in Preseason Loss to Steelers


PITTSBURGH -- The preseason is about learning from mistakes, and making improvements.

Unfortunately for the Titans, they left Heinz Field on Saturday with plenty of teaching points after a 16-6 loss to the Steelers.

The first team offense failed to get in sync against the Steelers. The unit failed to score on four possessions in what was the first unsteady performance this preseason.

The defense, meanwhile, gave up a first quarter touchdown, and made things easier on the Steelers with a pair of offside penalties, which extended drives. While the unit showed some spunk at times, the Steelers had too much success for anyone's liking.

"There's good football, and there's some bad football and stuff we can correct, stuff we can fix," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "But you know, we got a turnover on defense, and we got a turnover on downs. Offensively, we've just got to clean some things up."

Vrabel said the Titans failed to control Pittsburgh's front seven, and the inability to run the ball early hurt.

"I saw some inconsistent play," Vrabel said. "A lot of coaching was inconsistent, and inconsistent execution."

To make matters worse, rookie Harold Landry left the game early with an ankle injury, and did not return. The Titans were already playing without injured edge rushers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, who have missed time with injuries of their own. After the game, Vrabel said Landry will be evaluated.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota finished the game 5-of-8 for 43 yards and an interception on four possessions, and with the Titans trailing 7-0.

In three preseason contests, Mariota has completed 11-of-18 passes for 165 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception.

"We've shown flashes of stuff that we can do," Mariota said. "We've shown flashes of potential. But potential means nothing. We have to go out there and continue to get better.

"Looking at this game, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. … It's a process for us and we continue to build. But it's all part of process of getting ready for Week One."

Mariota was sacked twice in the contest, and he was intercepted by Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds on a ball intended for receiver Taywan Taylor on the team's fourth possession. Mariota was replaced in the second quarter by back-up Blaine Gabbert.

"We can definitely learn a lot from any game we play, especially this one," Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe said. "We can take a lot from the film and figure out things we can improve on."

Titans receiver Corey Davis called it a learning experience.

"It is kind of humbling us," Davis said. "We need to get all of our mistakes out of the way now."

The Steelers took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to receiver Justin Hunter.

Cornerback Adoree' Jackson, in coverage on the touchdown pass, made a nice fourth-down breakup on the following drive to end another Pittsburgh possession.

The Steelers extended the lead to 10-0 at halftime on a 42-yard field goal by kicker Chris Boswell, who made it 16-0 on a pair of kicks in the third quarter.

The Titans got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter on a three-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to tight end Anthony Firkser, which capped an 11-play, 82-yard drive. But the two-point attempt failed. Firkser, who played at Harvard, was one of the stars of the second half.

Titans rookie linebacker Robert Spillane, one of the team's most productive players on defense during the preseason, made a big play to end another Pittsburgh drive. Spillane took the ball out of the air for an interception in the second quarter on a dazzling play.

The Titans starters on defense played three series, one less than the team's starters on offense. But a large number of starters didn't even make the trip.

The Titans wrap up the preseason on Thursday night against the Vikings at Nissan Stadium.

"We'll see who is available and see who is going to play for us," Vrabel said.

The Tennessee Titans take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 of the preseason on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 at Heinz Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 of the preseason on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 at Heinz Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)