The Tennessee Titans got a wakeup call when they went to Arizona and lost in Week 14, or so you would think. That loss was so embarrassing that you would think they would have learned from it when facing the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15. Well, the offense played better but unfortunately the Titans snatched loss from the jaws of victory once again. The suddenly surging 49ers won their third game in a row with Robbie Gould hitting the game-winning field goal as time expired. The loss not only damaged the chances of the Titans winning the AFC South but also damaged their playoff chances. As it currently stands, the Titans are sitting in the fifth spot with the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars coming to town to end the season. Those two games are not going to be easy and could essentially keep the Titans out of the playoffs. So how did they get to this point?
The Titans offense was the issue last game. We can all admit that they missed a lot of plays that were left on the field against the Cardinals and they made some mistakes against the 49ers as well, but when they needed to make plays to win the game, they did so. Down by one point with 3:08 seconds left in the game, the Titans were able to put together a drive spanned eleven plays and 43 yards resulting in a Ryan Succup 50 yard field goal. The Titans offense getting the field goal was huge for them when it came to trying to win the game, but the clock management and the game-calling has to come into question. First, it seemed like the Titans did not deliberately waste enough time. With how bad Jimmy Garoppolo was shredding the Tennessee pass defense, offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie should have found ways to whittle down that clock while matriculating the football down the field. While that was a big mistake, there were two others ones as well. They had to waste one of their timeouts before a big third down play and then out of that timeout, they hand the ball off to DeMarco Murray, who was stuffed in the backfield. In that situation, you cannot blow that timeout there when under two minutes and out of the timeout, you have to get a better play than that (or put in Derrick Henry to get that tough yardage). Those three mistakes helped to give the 49ers the football back with time to make some plays.
While the offense bears some blame here, the defense really needs to bear even more blame in this game. Coming into this one, the Titans defense seemed to be picking it up in the pressure department. Well in this one, it seemed like the Titans pass defense from last season came back for this game. Jimmy Garoppolo was doing whatever he wanted with a limited playbook at that. He threw for 381 yards and one touchdown in the game. The Titans defense, despite how bad they defended the pass, still had a chance to atone for their abysmal pass defense in the last drive when the offense gave them a one-point lead to defend with 1:07 left in the game. Unfortunately, the Titans defense continued to do what they had done all game long and they allowed the 49ers to drive down and get in field goal position. Gould would kick the game-winning field goal and the Titans would lose their second-straight game. The issue with the Titans was their pass defense all game, but specifically on that last drive, the issue was they were playing prevent defense. They say prevent defense makes the opponent have to dink and dunk down the field and waste time. In this game, Jimmy Garoppolo was already shredding them with pressure, so why back off receivers and give him even more time and space to throw the football? Prevent defense prevented the Titans from winning the game and with a defensive mind like Dick LeBeau on the sidelines, that has to be disappointing.
The Titans have stumbled down the stretch so far with two games left on the schedule. Things don’t look good, but the best cure for that is winning football games. They have a tough test coming up next in the Los Angeles Rams. Can the Titans rise to the occasion with their playoff lives on the line or will they continue to wither down the stretch? Only time will tell, but this Sunday is an even more critical game for the Titans.
More stories you might like