Tue, 20 Nov 2018

Titans find way to finish uneven effort

Sports Xchange
14 Nov 2017, 13:16 GMT+10

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans had to rally in the last five minutes to win against a struggling Cincinnati team on Sunday, and squandered several chances to score more points.

But the Titans were taking the glass half-full approach to the situation, as they ran their record to 6-3 with the 24-20 victory and posted their fourth win in a row, something they had not accomplished since 2009. It was only a couple of years ago that the Titans went 5-27 over a two-year span under Ken Whisenhunt and in Mike Mularkey's interim stint.

The Titans actually dominated the game, but were their own worst enemy at times. Tennessee chewed up 40 minutes in time of possession, but let up to 17 points go by the boards with their own mistakes.

The Titans lost two potential touchdowns. One came when a wide-open Rishard Matthews dropped the ball with nothing but green grass in front of him at around the 15-yard line.

Then, rookie Corey Davis lost the football at the 1-yard line and had it go through the end zone, giving the Bengals the ball on a touchback.

And to top it off, Mr. Automatic, Ryan Succop, missed a 48-yard field goal, ending his consecutive kicks streak inside 50 yards at 56 in a row.

Still, despite those issues, the Titans rallied and marched 73 yards in 12 plays to get the win, when running back DeMarco Murray scored his third touchdown of the game on a 7-yard pass from Marcus Mariota.

"It came down to the fourth quarter. They made some plays that put our offense back on the field to where we had to go down and we drove all the way down and put points on the board," tight end Delanie Walker said. "We're never going to give up, and we're going to continue to fight. That's the difference from years before. They didn't have the fight. Now we have that fight."

Left tackle Taylor Lewan agreed, as the Titans were determined to not just tie the game with a field goal, but punch it into the end zone for the victory.

"That's the difference between us now and us two years ago," Lewan said. "Those little situations we got into -- was it finger-pointing or whatever, I don't know what it was back then -- but as an offense now, we saw them score on it, and I don't think anybody flinched. Our defense has been holding it down for us all year, and it was our turn to pay it back."

--Rookie cornerback Adoree' Jackson got even more of a look on offense Sunday, getting six snaps and being used on three runs for 30 yards, plus as a decoy to open things up for his teammates on offense.

"It was nice. I like my decoy plays a lot. It was awesome," Jackson said. "Just to get out there on the offensive side is pretty cool and to hear my name called and the defense saying '25 is in the game. Look for 25,' and everybody rallying to me, which was awesome. It reminds me of college and high school."

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said he likes the added wrinkle that Jackson can bring when he is in the game.

"He just adds another dimension. To be able to do that on offense, to move pieces around to create matchup problems, you have to give a lot of credit to the coaches for formulating that and setting us up in good situations," Mariota said.

--Titans head coach Mike Mularkey was not happy that there was not a 15-yard penalty thrown on Bengals safety George Iloka, who elbowed a defenseless Delanie Walker in the head in the end zone on the Titans' final touchdown drive.

Walker actually suffered a wrist injury on the play, but Mularkey said the play was malicious in his mind and that it is something the league has to address.

"I think to me, anytime you hit a defenseless player, it's malicious. He was defenseless, his defender knew he didn't have the ball. It's like a free shot," Mularkey said. "We're trying to protect players, that's all we keep talking about and then that happens. At some point, that will be addressed at the owner's meetings. We've got to do something about it. If we really want to protect them, we need to start throwing the flags on those plays."

NOTES: DE Derrick Morgan had two fumble recoveries for the Titans in Sunday's game. ... QB Marcus Mariota was 25 of 44 for 264 yards with one touchdown and one interception Sunday. He escaped serious injury on the final TD drive when he was tackled from behind by Geno Atkins on a scramble. He did suffer a mild ankle sprain and another minor issue when he landed on his left shoulder. ... TE Delanie Walker was limited in Monday's walk-through due to the wrist injury he sustained on the last drive. Walker was already nursing an ankle injury, but finished the game. ... G Quinton Spain has a chance to return to the starting lineup Thursday night after missing two games due to turf toe. ... LB Brian Orakpo had a sack and strip of QB Andy Dalton during Sunday's game. Orakpo, who has said he isn't worried about sack numbers, has 2.5 sacks on the year now. ... CB Adoree' Jackson had six snaps on offense and carried the ball three times for 30 yards Sunday. He now has 50 yards rushing on four carries this year. ... WR Corey Davis was inserted into the lineup on the Bengals' final drive as a defensive back in the Hail Mary defense.


--PASSING OFFENSE: B -- QB Marcus Mariota had an up-and-down day, including a bad interception, but at the end of the day, he engineered a game-winning TD drive after the Titans had coughed up the lead with just over five minutes left. He was 25 of 44 for 264 yards with the one pick and a game-winning TD pass. Mariota was sacked four times.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: A-minus -- The Titans ran for 180 yards against the Bengals, but not nearly all of it came from running backs. Marcus Mariota had 50 yards and cornerback Adoree' Jackson had three rushes for 30 yards.

--PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Titans' defense played pretty well against the pass except for two big plays. They gave up a 37-yard TD throw when Brandon LaFell got behind the defense and a 70-yard TD to A.J. Green that nearly was a back-breaker.

--RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Bengals didn't have much luck running the football, gaining just 53 yards rushing. Joe Mixon had only 37 yards on nine carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- Can't give an A because of the missed field goal, but other than that, special teams had a pretty solid day. Brett Kern continues to be amazing, including a 74-yard punt on Sunday.

COACHING: B -- The Titans' offense seemed to go in the tank on a few series and lost the creativity of the first drive, which was pretty much perfect. Defensively, the Titans didn't take a whole lot of chances and that proved to be a smart move.

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