LONDON -- The Titans lost a heartstopper -- and a heartbreaker -- here on Sunday.
Instead of leaving the United Kingdom in jubilation, the Titans left facing a long flight home following a 20-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers before 84,301 fans at Wembley Stadium.
"It hurts. It hurts a lot," Titans receiver Taywan Taylor said. "We came here to win, and we thought we were going to win all the way to the very end. Unfortunately, it didn't happen."
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with tight end Luke Stocker for a one-yard touchdown with just 31 seconds left, which capped off a gutsy, 13-play, 89-yard drive in the closing minutes.
But the ensuing two-point try – a pass into the end zone to Taylor -- failed.
"We wanted to win the game," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of the decision. "I am not going to second-guess the call. It just didn't work out. … I am just trying to do what is best for the team, and trying to find a way to win a football game. I haven't done a very good job the last few weeks. I have a lot of faith in our players. Faced with the same situation, I'd like to think I'd do it the same way."
Players liked the decision to go for two. The result was the only thing that bothered them.
On the two-point try, Mariota's pass to Taylor was tipped, and it sailed over his head. The two-point play originated from the Chargers one-yard line after a penalty on the first two-point try.
"We came all this way to win," running back Dion Lewis said. "If you said before the game, 'You have one play, and a yard to win the game.' You'd sign up for that before the game even started. We've been aggressive in the past, so why wouldn't we do it this time? It's just unfortunate it didn't work out."
The Titans dropped to 3-4.
Mariota completed 24-of-32 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown in the game. With pressure on him, Mariota orchestrated the final drive, and put the Titans in a position to win.
But as the tipped ball sailed over Taylor's head, Mariota and the rest of his teammates left disappointed.
"I loved the call, and I love (Vrabel) has the confidence in us," Mariota said. "We just didn't execute. They did a great job covering it, and I probably should have done a better job extending the play.
"There's definitely more I wish I could have done. … It doesn't feel good."
The Titans took a 3-0 lead on their first possession on a 28-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop.
But the Chargers answered back quickly on a 75-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Philip Rivers to receiver Tyrell Williams, who got behind Titans cornerback Logan Ryan. The Chargers stretched the lead to 10-3 on a field goal by kicker Michael Badgley, before another field goal by Succop made it 10-6 with 12:51 in the first half.
The Titans put together a great drive late in the first half, moving the ball from their own five-yard line to the Chargers 10 in the final minutes of the first half. But a tipped Mariota pass was intercepted by Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram near the goal line, and the Titans ended up with no points.
It was the first interception in the red zone in Mariota's career.
The Titans had another defensive lapse early in the third quarter, and it cost them. Rivers found receiver Mike Williams on a 55-yard touchdown, which made it 17-6. Titans safety Kendrick Lewis let Williams get behind him for the score.
But the Titans got off the mat.
The Titans cut the lead to 17-13 on a one-yard touchdown run by running back Derrick Henry, which capped off a seven-play, 42-yard drive that was set up by a nice return by Darius Jennings. The Chargers made it 20-13 on another Badgley field goal with 12:29 left. A missed field goal by Succop from 51 yards out kept the score unchanged with 8:21 left.
Then came the dramatic finish.
The Titans return to action on November 5 – a Monday Night Football game against the Cowboys in Arlington, Texans.
"If we'd made that play, people would have said it was the best call ever," Titans center Ben Jones said. "We were one play away, and if we'd won, it would have been amazing. But it didn't work out. We didn't execute on the last play.
"We have plenty of games left to get hot, and get on a roll. Now we just have to find a way to do it."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 7 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018 at Wembley Stadium in London. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 7 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018 at Wembley Stadium in London. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)