Titans keep finding new ways to hurt themselves
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans keep finding new ways to stop themselves in a woeful season close to slipping away.
The Titans blew a chance for a big lead at Baltimore when Shonn Greene fumbled at the goal line on the opening drive, and they lost 21-7.
They have lost seven of eight with Pittsburgh (6-4) coming to town for a Monday night game.
At 2-7, the 4-12 mark in 2005 as this franchise's worst record in Tennessee seems more realistic with each loss.
Nobody is happy, and coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday they all feel sick about the record.
''We all understand what this business is and what expectations are and that we haven't done what we have wanted to do from that standpoint, and we're going to work to do better,'' Whisenhunt said.
After having officials at practice last week, the Titans cleaned up some issues such as hands to the face and holding penalties that had plagued the offense. But the offense still had five penalties in Baltimore with special teams getting flagged four times as well. That's why Whisenhunt said officials will be back this week.
Worse, the Titans must wait for tight end Delanie Walker to be cleared from the concussion that knocked him out late in the second quarter against the Ravens. He's the only tight end that has been with the Titans all season long because of injuries.
The Titans were tied at 7-7 when Walker was hit near midfield after a catch by Ravens safety Terrence Brooks. Walker appeared to be knocked out, and teammate Kendall Wright recovered the ball. Officials ruled the pass incomplete, and Titans running back Leon Washington wound up flagged for head-butting one of the Ravens.
Instead of the ball near midfield with 2:16 left before halftime, the Titans punted.
''We didn't respond to that very well, so that's something we have to get better at,'' Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt also said he thought Brooks should have been flagged for using the crown of his helmet when hitting Walker, especially with that type of play being a point of emphasis by the NFL. Walker was carted to the locker room, and Whisenhunt said Monday the tight end must clear the concussion protocol before he can return.
Coming off their bye, the Titans went from holding the ball for 12 minutes, 50 seconds of the first quarter and taking a 7-0 lead to little offense afterward. They had seven three-play drives and ran no more than five plays in a possession after the first quarter.
It was rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger's first start on the road, and he connected on 8 of his first 11 passes with a touchdown. He was sacked five times and was 16 of 27 for 179 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
As a result, the Titans rank 31st in points per game having scored the fewest through nine games with 144 points just shy of the winless Raiders (146).
Jacksonville has scored 158 with an extra game. Tennessee also ranks 31st in total yards and first downs per game and remain last in the league in third-down efficiency after failing to convert the final eight chances in Baltimore.
It was only Mettenberger's second start, and he has lots of rookie company. The Titans also started top draft pick Taylor Lewan at left tackle and Bishop Sankey at running back - the first trio to start a game for this franchise since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. Eight of the Titans' 14 draft picks over the past two years started in Baltimore
''I think it can be a positive for our team in the future absolutely,'' Lewan said.
Notes: Whisenhunt said RB Dexter McCluster has a knee bruise with swelling that forced him to the sideline.
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