Titans’ late mistakes cost game, playoff control

The Tennessee Titans keep making mistakes at crucial times, and

now they’ve lost control of their playoff destiny and possibly

their last chance at a winning record.

A team that has scored 122 points in the fourth quarter this

season couldn’t score late, and a defense that had been so stingy

couldn’t get off the field when it mattered most as the Titans lost

22-14 to Indianapolis. Tennessee now has lost six of its last

eight, and five of those losses have been by nine points or

less.

Coach Mike Munchak said Monday they don’t see some of the errors

that may happen in games in practice and fix them when they do.

”It’s the fact that unfortunately sometimes it’s growing

pains,” Munchak said. ”Sometimes it’s you … become a better

team as you grow through some of the mistakes that do happen.”

The Titans outplayed the Colts in so many categories: outgaining

them 347-264 in total offense, holding the ball for nearly 34

minutes, sacking Andrew Luck five times and holding the Colts to

five field goals. It wasn’t enough to overcome four turnovers by

Ryan Fitzpatrick, including an interception with 33 seconds left

after driving to the Colts 33.

”We all know what covers up bad mistakes or mistakes is someone

making a big play that overshadows some of the mistakes that are

made by other teammates,” Munchak said.

The Titans had one interception and missed chances at two

others, including early in the fourth quarter when George Wilson

dropped a ball that hit him in the chest. The Colts also fumbled

the ball three times and recovered each one.

”Unfortunately when you lose it just makes them all worse,”

Munchak said.

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said they can’t point fingers at

anyone because everyone took a turn making a mistake. He said the

Titans are playing with passion and heart but need to correct the

mental errors.

”That’s been our biggest thing all season,” Casey said.

”Mental errors when it comes to crunch time we just can’t snap out

of it and get these wins.”

Now the Titans (5-7) trail Baltimore and Miami, both 6-6, for

the AFC’s final playoff spot with four games left. They visit

Denver on Sunday and a quarterback in Peyton Manning that Tennessee

has struggled to beat for years. The Titans tried to sign Manning

in March 2012 only to watch him pick Denver.

The Titans, who held the AFC’s final playoff spot a week ago,

now trail Baltimore and Miami who are both 6-6. The Ravens still

must visit Detroit and Cincinnati and hosting New England. Miami

finishes with trips to Pittsburgh and Buffalo and hosting New

England and the Jets.

Tennessee hosts Arizona before visiting Jacksonville and home

against Houston. The Titans are 0-4 in the AFC South this season

and 4-12 under Munchak.

Tennessee does get safety Michael Griffin back after serving a

one-game suspension against the Colts as a repeat violator of the

NFL’s rules protecting defenseless players. The Titans are thin at

tight end with Delanie Walker being monitored after being evaluated

for a concussion that knocked him out of the Colts’ game, though

Craig Stevens has a chance to return.

”We all got tough roads ahead,” Munchak said. ”We’ve made it

harder without a doubt, so we have to go win a game this weekend

which most people don’t think we have a chance to win. ”

Notes: QB Jake Locker talked briefly to reporters Monday for the

first time since having surgery to repair his right foot last week.

He said he hopes to be back on the field for minicamps next spring

with a definite return for training camp. … FB Collin Mooney was

having tests on his left knee after leaving Indianapolis on

crutches wearing a knee brace. Munchak said the Titans will look at

the possibility of adding another fullback.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org