Titans' OT Opening Loss Result of Little Mistakes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Jeff Fisher preached to his Tennessee Titans the need to tend to the little things since a playoff loss in January. Well, they have a long list of little mistakes they can tick off that cost them their season opener in Pittsburgh.

Two drive-killing turnovers, a missed field goal after a bad snap, a blocked field goal, a shanked punt, struggles fielding punts a week after Fisher cut his returner and penalties that wiped out big gains.

"When you lose close games, the difference in close games are little things,'' Fisher said Friday.

"There were a lot of mistakes that were made, minor mistakes. Had the game gone the other way, the Steelers would've said the same thing. ... They're all correctable. That's what we're dwelling on right now. We somehow have to turn this into a positive, and the only way to do that is correct the mistakes.''

Pittsburgh needed overtime, but the 13-10 score was exactly the same as the Titans' divisional playoff loss in January to Baltimore. And just as they did after that loss, the Titans are blaming themselves.

"We were in a position to win that game,'' quarterback Kerry Collins said after the game. "We just made too many mistakes and they made plays when we needed to.''

Receiver Nate Washington, who has his Super Bowl ring from playing with Pittsburgh last season, called it the hardest kind of loss.

"We shouldn't have been beaten. We kind of beat ourselves, but in the same breath we proved a lot. We just came up short. We have to close the deal,'' Washington said.

Another positive? Fisher calls the mistakes all correctable, even at punt returner where he expects rookie Ryan Mouton to be ready for the Titans' home opener Sept. 20 against the Houston Texans.

But the Titans can spend their weekend off dwelling on all that went wrong against the team many had expected to play for the AFC championship last January.

The Titans started four drives inside their own 11 after punt returns with All Pro cornerback Cortland Finnegan handling the job with Mouton slow returning from a sprained ankle. Finnegan, who led the Ohio Valley Conference in punt return average in 2005 with Samford, hadn't handled the job in a game since 2007.

Tennessee lost six points when Rob Bironas' 37-yarder was wide right and a 31-yarder was blocked in the first half. The miss came off a bad snap that Craig Hentrich had to yank back to his left for Bironas even to kick at it. But Bironas' kick was low on his second attempt that Aaron Smith batted it down.

Then there were two costly turnovers.

The first came on second-and-5 when rookie Kenny Britt pushed off, then couldn't break up an interception when Troy Polamalu grabbed the ball to himself with his left hand. Then the rookie didn't touch Polamalu done at the Titans 5, and the safety got up and ran it back 16 yards.

Britt redeemed himself with a 57-yard reception that set up the Titans' lone touchdown just before halftime. Britt finished with a team-best 85 yards receiving.

The second came after Titans took the opening kickoff of the second half into Pittsburgh territory when Collins tossed a short pass to Bo Scaife. James Harrison tackled him, and Scaife lost the ball.

"We ended our own drives, and then the two field goal opportunities obviously were difference-makers in the game,'' Fisher said.

It overshadows a game in which the defense, in its first game without All Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, held Pittsburgh to a single yard of offense in the first quarter, sacked Ben Roethlisberger four times, hit him eight other times and came up with three turnovers.

Tennessee was the only team to roll up 300 or more yards against Pittsburgh in 2008, and the Titans had 320 Thursday night.

Now that matching last season's 10-0 start is gone, the Titans are ready to turn their attention to their next opponent.

"We're going to take this anger out on the Texans,'' defensive tackle Jason Jones said.

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