NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)The Tennessee Titans find themselves at a critical point coming off their third straight road loss this season.
They’re at home only once in a seven-week span, though technically they’re the home team Sunday in London against the Baltimore Ravens. The Titans (2-3) haven’t won away from Nashville since Nov. 17 at Green Bay.
Their 23-16 loss at Indianapolis has them mired at the bottom of the AFC South. They have lots of issues to fix before finishing this season with five of the final seven at home.
Coach Mike Vrabel knows what he wants to see from his Titans: Accountability, discipline and no more excuses.
“It’s a week-to-week league and focus on this week and everything that we can do and then figure out where we go after that,” Vrabel said Monday.
Ryan Tannehill and his pass protection. Tannehill threw for a season-high 264 yards with five plays of at least 19 yards or longer. An offensive line that had given up 16 sacks through four games gave the veteran time to throw until the last minute.
Then he was sacked for the first time. On the next play, he was intercepted.
Tannehill has more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes (two) in the final year of his current contract. If the Titans can’t stay close to the AFC South leader, they may be forced to see what Malik Willis or rookie Will Levis can do for an offense ranked 26th in the NFL in averaging 17.6 points a game.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Run defense. What has been the Titans’ biggest defensive strength disappeared against the Colts.
They had gone 10 straight games of not allowing an opposing offense to reach 100 yards only to see the Colts run for 193 yards. They also hadn’t allowed an opposing player to reach 100 yards for 20 consecutive games until Zack Moss went for 165 yards.
The Titans simply couldn’t get off blocks with Vrabel saying, “When you play peekaboo, though those things happen.”
A team that had been the NFL’s second best on third down defense since 2021 also struggled to get off the field. They allowed the Colts to convert 8 of 13 third downs, including three on the game-clinching drive where Indy chewed up seven minutes off the clock.
DeAndre Hopkins. The three-time All-Pro wide receiver had his best game this season, catching eight of 11 passes for 140 yards. He just missed getting his left toes down for a TD on a throw from Derrick Henry.
Hopkins became only the fourth player in NFL history to make a catch in each of his first 150 games. He joined a pair of Pro Football Hall of Famers in Marvin Harrison (first 190 games) and Marshall Faulk (first 158) along with Keyshawn Johnson (first 167).
CB Kristian Fulton. Vrabel said they thought of benching the starter who was a second-round pick in 2020 and is the last member of that Titans’ draft class.
Fulton was flagged for pass interference on third-and-12 in the fourth quarter with Tennessee trailing 20-16. He’s now tied for the team lead with four penalties – all leading to first downs – giving up a team-high 80 yards off penalties.
Vrabel said he’s hopeful starting defensive lineman Teair Tart (toe), who missed the Colts’ loss, might be back. Same with WR Treylon Burks, who has missed two straight games with an injured left knee. Two-time Pro Bowl DL Jeffery Simmons hurt a shoulder but finished the game.
1 – The number of touchdowns scored by the Titans in three road games combined. They’re tied for 29th scoring inside the red zone, an area that traditionally been a strength for this franchise thanks to Henry.
Unlike Baltimore, the Titans fly to London on Thursday night, preferring to work at their team headquarters. A win would get them back to .500 going into their bye before that home game Oct. 29 against Atlanta. Then it’s back on the road for three straight.
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