NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The roller coaster that is an NFL season is a well-documented ride. Last week's results mean nothing when the next game rolls around. That was the case in Week 2 with "upsets" seen across the league.
Each game takes on a life of its own with zero influence from prior results. That degree of unpredictability makes it vital to never get too high after a win or too low after a loss.
Ken Whisenhunt said it following the Titans' impressive showing a week ago in Kansas City – it doesn't mean anything without consistency. He preached the importance of being proud of the win, but transitioning back into focus for the Dallas Cowboys.
Now that the Titans' home opener has come and gone, a 26-10 loss to the Cowboys, it's time for the team to put the disappointing result behind them and move on to the next task at hand – a road matchup with the 2-0 Cincinnati Bengals.
"Similar to last week, you don't get too high after a win, this was a game where we didn't play our best and we're going to bounce back and play better football," Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt did praise the Cowboys for their execution, but says the film shows plenty of the Titans miscues had nothing to do with Dallas.
"A lot of it was self-inflicted," he said. "They were prepared and they played well, so give Dallas credit, but they didn't really do anything we didn't anticipate. We just didn't execute very well."
Cowboys running back Demarco Murray appeared unstoppable with 115 first-half rushing yards and 167 for the game. Both Whisenhunt and members of the defense said that the Titans struggled with their assignments leaving gaps wide open.
Defensive end Jurrell Casey raised his hand and declared his need to improve, despite posting his first two sacks of the season.
"For me, it was one of the worst games of my career. I'm going to leave that up there until I get the issues fixed," said Casey pointing toward his locker.
The coaches handed out report cards to the defense on Monday and Casey vowed to keep his subpar marks posted on the side of his locker until he sees improvement.
"I had 11 mess-ups in the game in around 50-some snaps. 11 mess-ups kill your game plan and I was a big part of that. I have to make sure I fix my parts and help the team win," Casey added critically of himself.
The Titans second consecutive slow start on offense will continue to be a point of emphasis going forward. Whisenhunt said the opportunities were there in the first half but it's up to somebody to make a play.
"We had a couple of opportunities to make plays and we didn't," Whisenhunt explained. "It comes down to making those plays and there are a number of factors that were involved. The bottom line is that we weren't good enough and we've got to get better than that. We were good the week before and we weren't good yesterday."
Despite the struggles of the first two quarters, the Titans surged back in the third quarter, scoring 10 consecutive points to make it a one score game. At 16-10, it was truly a new game that was up for the taking.
"The one thing here I think we learn from this if there is a positive is that with a little under eight minutes left in the third quarter, we'd cut it to a one score game," said Whisenhunt. "That was probably with playing as bad a first half as we could."
It turns into a teaching moment for when the team finds themselves in a similar scenario in the future.
"We've got to learn that when we get back to that situation we've got to take advantage of it and get back in it," Whisenhunt said. "We had a chance with Bernard [Pollard] almost making a play on that one tipped ball that would have changed the complexion of the game maybe. Those are the kind of plays you have to make."
Players will take their normal day off on Tuesday before returning to the practice field Wednesday and turning the page to another tough test ahead against the defending AFC North champs.