Titans Struggle on offense as Panthers Pull Away for Win


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —One drive ended with an interception, the next with a drop.

Then came a possession that concluded with a mishandled snap by Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Those were the first three drives by the Titans in the second half of Sunday's 27-10 loss to the Panthers. It's no wonder the team saw the game slip away in the second half.

"We started it and when we started (making mistakes), it started an abundance of bad things for us,'' Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey said. "When you do that and you go against a team that is that efficient, it is not good. It's not going to be pretty at the end just like you saw. It's not pretty."

It wasn't pretty for the Titans in the second half on Sunday.

Mistakes turned a close game – it was 14-10 Carolina at halftime – into a one-sided contest at the end.

The Titans managed just one first down in the second half until their final possession of the contest, which came with 2:37 left on the contest. By that time the Panthers had outscored the Titans 13-0 in the second half, to make it 27-10.

All told, the Titans picked up just three first downs in the second half, and 11 for the game.

"We knew coming in this would be a tough battle,'' said Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was 16-of-24 for 185 yards in the contest. "For us, I think we left a lot of points out there.  We didn't get drives going.  Our defense played well enough for us to win.  It's one of those days we didn't execute."

The Titans scored an early touchdown on a 25-yard touchdown run by running back Dexter McCluster, which capped a 10-play, 82-yard drive. The Titans also got a 45-yard field goal from kicker Ryan Succop in the second quarter, which made it 14-10 Panthers.

Then the well went dry, and filled up with mistakes.

Mariota was intercepted by Panthers defensive back Kurt Coleman on a ball intended for receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. After the game, Mularkey said Green-Beckham should have kept running his route full speed to avoid having the ball picked off.

Tight end Anthony Fasano dropped a pass in his hands on a third-and-one in the third quarter, which forced the Titans to punt. Then Mariota mishandled a snap, and was dropped for a 10-yard loss.

Mariota was sacked at the start of another possession at the start of the first quarter, and the Titans ended up punting at the end of that drive.

When the Titans got the ball at the end, they managed to pick up a pair of first downs late, but McCluster ended up fumbling, and the Panthers ran out the clock.

Yes, the Titans were a mess on offense in the second half. It was a far cry from the team's performance last Sunday in New Orleans, when Mariota threw four touchdowns in a 34-28 overtime win.

"It is very frustrating,'' Green-Beckham said. "We did a good job last week, but we took a step back."

The Titans need to fix their mistakes in a hurry.

On Thursday, they face the Jaguars.

"It's tough but it's one game,'' Mariota said afterward. "We've got a short week, so we've got to dust those things off and get ready for Thursday."


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