Titans 'close,' but losses continue piling up
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans are sick of coming close only to lose again - and with good reason. The losses are piling up.
The Titans (2-8) blew a 24-13 lead Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers and wound up losing 27-24. It was their third loss this season by three points or less.
Tennessee now has lost four straight and eight of the last nine in the worst stretch for this franchise since the 2010 team lost eight of the final nine. The helped lead to Jeff Fisher's departure after the season.
Ken Whisenhunt now is the second coach for Tennessee since that season, and he said Tuesday he likes how his Titans are playing. But they failed in the fourth quarter with a chance to make a couple plays in the fourth quarter that might have won the game.
''A win would be something that would be really good for us right now,'' Whisenhunt said.
Now the Titans hit the road for a two-game swing that starts with the Eagles (7-3) and wraps up against Houston (5-5). That leaves no time to feel sorry for themselves in a November where the schedule features four opponents all at .500 or above, which hasn't made it any easier breaking in a rookie quarterback in this stretch.
The Titans had Tuesday off, but safety George Wilson said after the game they keep working hard trying to win.
''There's no moral victories in this league, there's no pity parties and nobody is going to take it easy on us,'' Wilson said. ''We have to go out and fight and earn it. Play for 60 minutes. We just didn't finish the game out in a manner that would allow us a chance to win.''
The Titans did show signs of improvement.
Zach Mettenberger wasn't sacked even once by the Steelers in 24 pass attempts, the first time the Titans haven't allowed a sack since Sept. 23, 2012, against Detroit. Mettenberger also shook off being intercepted on his first pass on the Titans' first offensive play of the game in the rookie's first prime time game.
''That's pretty tough for any quarterback, so give him a lot of credit for how he responded to that,'' Whisenhunt said. ''I think it shows a measure of his toughness.''
Mettenberger finished throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns, and the sixth-round draft pick out of LSU finished with a 110.2 passer rating that was higher than veteran Ben Roethlisbeger's (81.1).
A team that has worked with officials in practice the past two weeks was flagged only once on a hold by right guard Chance Warmack, a big difference for the Titans who had been among the most penalized teams in the NFL.
But the Titans still need to figure out how to stay on the field in the fourth quarter. They held the ball for only 3 minutes, 51 seconds of the fourth quarter running only seven plays on two drives. The Titans rank 30th in points per game and have topped 17 points only three times this season. They ran 39 offensive plays, leaving the defense to play nearly twice that (73).
So the defense wound up allowing a season-high 204 yards rushing to Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, and Whisenhunt said gap fits were part of the issue.
''We were close in a lot of areas, close to making plays on balls,'' Whisenhunt said. ''it's just one thing here or there. We're not making the plays at the right time. Those are things we're trying to fight through right now, and we're going to continue to work on them.''
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