NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Here's a look at six things standing out - good and bad – following Sunday's 34-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts:
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota made some really nice throws on Sunday. On the game-tying drive, he connected with receivers Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Matthews on third down, and then found tight end Delanie Walker in the end zone for a touchdown, once again on third down. On the season, Mariota has 12 touchdowns vs. 6 interceptions after throwing two more TDs on Sunday. But there's no denying Mariota let some easy throws sail on him vs. the Colts, including a third-and-one pass to receiver Andre Johnson. Mariota was high on a number of throws on the sideline, and he also overthrew Matthews streaking downfield on a deep ball.
Mariota will be the first to tell you he has to do better holding onto the football. It's been one of the most talked about issues surrounding the second-year quarterback. Mariota mishandled a snap on Sunday, which resulted in a nine-yard loss. And, of course, he had the ball knocked out of his hands at the end, which resulted in a scoop-and-score for the Colts. Mariota is the only one who can quash the ball security conversation. But he has to find a way to avoid the miscues to do it. Of course the offensive line has to do a better job of keeping a 310-pound defensive lineman from busting up the middle and into his face, too.
Defense didn't close the deal
The failure to get stops on defense completely changed the conversation at water coolers today. Just think about it. If the Titans had found a way to shut down the Colts in the closing minutes, Mariota would be getting praised for guiding the team on a game-tying, and then game-winning drive against Indianapolis. Instead, there's frustration. I read it on Twitter and hear it on talk radio. The Titans defense failed to stop quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts in crunch time. Luck converted a 3rd-and-13 and a 3rd-and-goal from the seven to put the Colts ahead with less than two minutes to go. I don't have to tell you again what happened next. The defense needed to get a stop, and it didn't get the job done.
DeMarco continues to roll**
Running back DeMarco Murray eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the third time in the last five weeks, and he's now at 633 yards after seven games. Murray ran for 107 yards on Sunday, on 25 carries. He's on pace to finish with 1,447 rushing yards on the season. I continue to hear from fans who want to see more of running back Derrick Henry, and I get it. Henry has shown promise when he's been on the field. But as long as Murray stays productive, he's going to get the carries and playing time. Coaches trust him and he's given them no reasons to play him less.
It seems like I mention Karl Klug in this six-pack every week. The rugged defensive lineman continues to make plays – and get noticed – on Sundays. On his 27 snaps, Klug was credited with a half-sack on Sunday, and he also batted down a pass from Luck at the line of scrimmage on a key 3rd-and-five play. He was in on three tackles, and was disruptive in the middle. Linebacker Derrick Morgan also had a solid day. He was credited with three quarterback hits, and 1.5 sacks.
No forced fumbles
One stat that's surprising – and one that needs to change – is on defense. The Titans have been a disruptive bunch on a lot of Sundays, with 20 sacks and six interceptions through seven games. Everyone would agree the unit needed to make more game-turning plays on Sunday, of course. But here's a stat that surprises me: The Titans haven't forced a fumble all season. Titans coach Mike Mularkey discussed this a few weeks back, and said the team is trying to get the football out. But so far it hasn't happened. A year ago, the Titans forced seven fumbles and recovered four. Perhaps the trend will end on Thursday night.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)