SANTA CLARA, Calif. –** In a matter of minutes, the Titans experienced an emotional lift, and then a crushing finish.
The result – a 25-23 loss to the 49ers – capped a two-game road trip that saw the team's fortunes take a wrong turn out West.
"We left Nashville in first place in our division, and now we've lost two in a row," Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said. "It is not a very good feeling but it is something we can learn from. Now we have to bounce back."
Linebacker Erik Walden was even more direct, and to the point.
The Titans lost on a field goal on the final play of the game here on Sunday. If they don't respond, they'll end up losing everything they've worked for all season.
The Titans (8-6) are now two games behind the Jaguars in the AFC South, with two games left at Nissan Stadium. The Los Angeles Rams are up next, before the season finale against the Jaguars. Both teams are 10-4.
"We came out here, and it was supposed to be a nice trip, a great experience, and we take two Ls," Walden said, recalling last Sunday's loss to the Cardinals. "We are supposed to win and take care of business, and we didn't. Now we are in the predicament we're in.
"We have to win against a hot-ass L.A. Rams team, and a hot Jacksonville team. We have to man up and take care of business. Everybody better have a sense of urgency."
The Titans lost a heartbreaker here on Sunday.
After taking the lead 23-22 on kicker Ryan Succop's 50-yard field goal with 1:07 left, the Titans needed a stop on defense, and they didn't get it.
A 45-yard field goal by 49ers kicker Robbie Gould – his sixth field goal of the game -- on the final play of the game was the difference. It capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive in the final 1:07.
"It is definitely tough," defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. "Our offense put us in a position to win today, and we let them down. Now, it is all or nothing."
Mariota completed 23-of-33 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns, with a 110.8 rating. But the Titans couldn't stop 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who completed 31-of-43 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns, and led the late drive.
"I just got done speaking with the team, and I just told them like it was -we had chances to win that game all over the place," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "We just could not make the plays when we needed to have the plays made. And that's basically what it came down to. ... It's disappointing. We've won a lot of these types of games."
Titans fell behind 16-3 before rallying, only to come up short.
The Titans cut the lead to 16-10 just before halftime on a four-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to tight end Delanie Walker, which capped a 6-play, 79-yard drive. Mariota completed 5-of-6 passes on the drive, including the scoring strike to Walker with just 29 seconds left before halftime. Until then it had been a tough half for Walker, who let a catchable ball go off his hands in the end zone, and later lost a fumble.
The Titans cut the lead to 16-13 early in the third quarter on a 31-yard field goal by Succop, which capped off a 14-play, 62-yard drive.
Then came the Mariota and the Titans offense again.
Working primarily out of the no huddle, the Titans put together another long drive, and capped it off with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to receiver Rishard Matthews. The third-down play came at the end of a 12-play, 84-yard drive for the Titans, and it made it 20-16.
The 49ers cut the lead to 20-19 on a 50-yard field goal by Gould. Gould's fifth field goal of the game gave the 49ers a 22-20 lead over the Titans with 3:08 left.
The Titans took over at their own 25, down 22-20 with 3:08 left. The team drove to take the lead, but let it slip away late.
"It may be dark right now, but it is going to be alright," cornerback Adoree' Jackson said. "Everybody says 24-hour rule, but we have a 4-hour flight and that is enough time contemplate the game, what happened. If you want to beat yourself up, beat yourself up. But when you get back to Nashville it is time to get back to work."
Mariota expects the Titans to rally around one another.
"This team is close," Mariota said. "We understand the situation and we understand the situation we put ourselves in and I wouldn't want to go into any other situation with any other group of guys. I think those guys understand we can go out there and win these next two games."
The Tennessee Titans take on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15 at Levi's Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)