GLENDALE, Ariz. –** The Titans offense dried up in the desert here on Sunday, and not even a valiant effort from the defense could bail them out.
The result was a 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
"They made more plays than we did,'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "You can't turn the ball over like we did and not get any. Tough loss. Tough loss for us. Defense played out of their mind for the whole game. Had a chance to win the game because of our defense the whole game. Special teams wasn't good enough and neither was the offense."
Quarterback Marcus Mariota blamed himself after the loss. He completed 16-of-31 passes for 159 yards, with two interceptions.
The Titans were stagnant on offense in the second half, managing just three first downs and 62 yards of total offense. The Titans managed only 204 yards and 14 first downs in the game.
"Frustration is an understatement," Mariota said. "The defense played lights out, special teams did their job and I have been hurting our team and I have to find ways to get better and improve.
"I expect myself to do my job, and that's taking care of the football and converting third downs. And I haven't been up to par. I have to be better."
With the loss, the Titans dropped to 8-5.
The team is now one game behind the Jaguars in the AFC South with three games to play. The Jaguars improved to 9-4 on Sunday with a win over the Seahawks.
"This loss, it can't kill us," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "We still have anything in our grasp. We control our own destiny. We have a chance to get in the playoffs. We have a chance to win the division. We just have to lock it down and play our ball down the stretch."
The Titans let this one slip away.
And they also let a great effort from their defense to waste.
The Titans racked up eight sacks on defense -- Johnathan Cyprien, Erik Walden, David King and Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard, Avery Williamson and Brian Orakpo all sacked Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Casey got Gabbert twice.
But it wasn't enough, as the Titans struggled to get anything going in the second half.
"Oh my gosh," tight end Delanie Walker said. "(Frustration was) high. It was very high. I don't know what to say. I'm sad because the defense played lights out and we didn't help them pretty much.
"They won. I will not say they didn't play great. Their defense played great. They did things that we hadn't seen. They came prepared to play. At the end of the day, we didn't play very well. Our defense held them to field goals and you can't put points on the board, obviously then you can't win games."
The Titans were outscored 12-0 in the second half.
Running back Derrick Henry put the Titans on the scoreboard first with a six-yard touchdown run. Henry fought off Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson as he approached the goal line, and he lunged to the pylon for the score.
The scoring play capped a nine-play, 50-yard drive, and gave the Titans a 7-0 lead. The Titans converted two third downs on the drive – first on a 3rd-and-1 run by Henry, and later on an 11-yard completion from Mariota to receiver Eric Decker on third and nine.
But the Titans wouldn't score again.
The Cardinals cut the lead to 7-3 on a 47-yard field goal by kicker Phil Dawson.
After a fake punt – Tennessee's Eric Weems was stopped short of a first down on a 4th and 1 – the Cardinals had a great chance to take the lead after taking over at the Tennessee 35-yard line. But after driving to the Tennessee three-yard line, Titans defensive lineman Karl Klug stopped running back Kerwynn Williams for a two-yard loss on third-and-1, and the Cardinals settled for another Dawson field goal, this one from 23 yards, to make it 7-6.
With the Titans driving late in the third quarter, Mariota was intercepted by Cardinals cornerback Tramon Williams on a throw intended for receiver Rishard Matthews.
The Cardinals drove the field and took a 9-7 lead on a 32-yard field goal by Dawson with 5:59 left.
After another Mariota interception, Dawson added another field goal to make it 12-7 with 3:45 left.
The Titans had chances after that, but couldn't get anything going on offense.
Murray finished the game with 34 yards on 11 carries, while Henry had 20 yards on eight carries.
The Titans travel to face the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday.
"We have to get a win," Woodyard said. "The sense of urgency goes up any time after a loss. I have no doubt in our team we're going to keep fighting and get back on track and ready to roll."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)