NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Mike Munchak said he liked the way his team continued to fight against the Falcons Sunday. He just wished Tennessee hadn't made the battle so difficult.
Munchak and the team on Monday dissected the film from Sunday's 23-17 loss to Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.
He said the Titans didn't do their best job of blocking or tackling and were flagged for too many penalties — 10 infractions for 86 yards.
"No one does it on purpose," Munchak said. "We all know that. You're aware of them. We stress them. We watch them on tape in front of the whole team."
The yardage assessed on penalties is often just the beginning of a chain reaction. Officials flagged Jared Cook for holding during the return of the opening kickoff. Instead of Marc Mariani bringing the ball out to the Tennessee 33-yard-line, the penalty was assessed from the 17, moving the ball back to the 7 for the Titans' first play from scrimmage.
The 10-yard foul became a 26-yard burden and altered what the Titans wanted to do with their first offensive possession. Atlanta stopped Chris Johnson for a loss of 3, allowed him a gain of six, and then prevented conversion of third-and-7 to force a punt from normally solid Brett Kern.
"Things snowballed and then we had a bad punt," Munchak said.
The punt went out of bounds at the Tennessee 44-yard-line, providing Atlanta a short field for its first possession that ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez.
Atlanta gradually built its lead to 23-3 with 3:07 left in the third quarter.
The Titans rushed 14 times for 41 yards, with 17 coming on a scramble by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and 11 on a scramble by reserve QB Jake Locker. Johnson had 13 yards on 12 carries, although Munchak said there were a couple of carries where Johnson didn't have a chance.
"I'd say as a group, for the limited time we had to run it, we didn't block well," Munchak said. "It was very average and inconsistent. If you only get 10 carries, you've got to do a much better job than we did. It starts with the offensive line. They know that.
"We've got to find a way to make some runs," Munchak added. "I thought we would run the ball better. We didn't earn the right for 30 carries. You have to get more than 1 or 2 yards to get a chance to do it more often."
Atlanta, conversely, had 36 rushes for 116 yards, with 5-foot-10, 247-pound Michael Turner gaining 100 yards on 21 carries. Turner rushed for 15 yards on his first carry and added a 35-yard gain in the second quarter. He gained 27 on his last rush of the day that helped Atlanta finish off Tennessee.
"If we tackled correctly, went low, (Turner) went down," Munchak said. "If we stayed high, he ran over us. On his two big runs, guys tried to bear hug him and paid the price for that."
Tennessee (5-5) is 2-5 when opponents out-rush them this season and 3-0 when it out-rushes opponents.
Locker connected with Nate Washington for a pair of touchdown throws, and Tennessee opted to kick it deep and try to force a punt with less than three minutes remaining, but Atlanta forced the Titans to exhaust their time outs and ran out the clock.
"It would have been fun to see what we could have done," Munchak said. "There's good things in there, but when you lose, it's a loss. We're better than what we showed on that field."