NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The roar was back at Nissan Stadium, and late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, it looked like the Titans would finally take a bite out of Indianapolis Colts.
Only it didn't happen.
The result – a 34-26 loss to the Colts – was especially tough to take for a team still searching for ways to get over the hump against their AFC South rivals.
"I'm upset,'' Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. "Really at a loss for words right now. That makes 10 in a row to lose to the Colts, and me personally, I've been losing to (Andrew Luck) since college. It hurts me deeply. I've just got to find a way, and my team just has to find ways to win these close games.
"We are very disappointed in ourselves."
It's true. The Titans have now lost 10 straight games to the Colts, and Sunday's game was a painful one.
The Titans had a chance to take a big step in the AFC South, and move ahead of the Colts. The two teams are now tied at 3-4 in the division, behind the Texans (4-2).
"We let this one get away from us," Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. "We had it, and I think everyone feels the same way right now. We feel like we let this one go. … They keep finding a way to beat us, and that has to stop."
After battling back from an early deficit, the Titans went ahead 23-20 with just 6:02 remaining on a 48-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop.
Earlier, the Titans tied the game 20-20 on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Walker with 12:39 remaining.
Momentum was on Tennessee's side late.
But the Colts rallied, and regained the lead 27-23 on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Luck to tight end Jack Doyle, which capped off a 12-play, 70-yard drive with 1:55 left.
When the Titans got the ball back, Mariota had the ball knocked out of his hand by Colts defensive lineman T.Y. McGill, and Colts defensive lineman Robert Mathis picked it up and ran it back 14 yards for a touchdown to make it 34-23. The Titans added a late field goal to account for the final margin.
Coach Mike Mularkey said the Titans made things difficult on themselves with early mistakes. A botched extra point and the failure to recover an onside kick were among the gaffes.
"Those are things that help you win close games and we are going to be in a lot of close games like this,'' Mularkey said. "Those are things we have to do a better job of making plays and we have done that. We have won some close games. We have to do it over and over, more consistently."
Mariota finished the day 22-of-36 for 232 yards and two touchdowns, and a 95.8 rating.
Running back DeMarco Murray racked up 107 yards on 25 carries in the contest. It was his third 100-yard game of the season.
But Titans had their two-game winning streak snapped because they weren't consistent enough on offense, and because the defense couldn't get stops when needed in crunch time.
Time and again Luck converted big third downs. He finished the game 27-of-39 for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
"I have all the respect in the world for Luck," said Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan. "He is one of the best competitors I've ever played against. But we didn't play our brand of defense today. And we didn't make plays when we needed to."
The Titans jumped out to a 6-0 lead early, thanks to touchdown on their opening drive for the second week in a row. The Titans scored in a way not many expected – on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to left tackle Taylor Lewan. But the Titans failed on the extra point attempt because of a mishandled snap.
The Colts responded quickly. Luck connected with running back Frank Gore for three-yard touchdown pass, and then found receiver T.Y. Hilton open for a 37-yard touchdown pass. After a 28-yard field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri, it was 17-6 Colts.
The Titans got a big scoring drive at the end of the first half, one that was capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Murray, making it 17-13 at the half.
The Colts stretched their lead to 20-13 on a 33-yard kick by Vinatieri, who broke an NFL record with the kick. It was Vinatieri's 43rd consecutive made field goal.
Then the Titans rallied, only to see things unravel in the end.
The Titans will face the Jaguars on Thursday night at Nissan Stadium.
"I think with what happened today, guys are hungry to get back on the field,'' Mariota said. "It's an opportunity to get back on track and get rolling again."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)