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Three takeaways: Titans vs. Steelers
Story By: Brady Trapnell
After four straight games of finding a way to win, the Tennessee Titans (6-4) let missed opportunities get the best of them as they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2) Thursday night in a blowout 40-17.
Here’s our three takeaways from the Titans loss in Pittsburgh.
Inconsistency finally catches up
This Titans team is like a bad magnet. Opposites don’t attract.
When the Titans defense plays well, the offense struggles and vice versa.
Against the Ravens and Bengals, Mariota and Co. struggled in the second half but the defense picked them up. Then, Mariota led them to game winning drives. They made up for the mistakes.
This time four interceptions, a dropped touchdown and a blocked field goal characterized another inconsistent performance for the Titans offense and a game full of more missed opportunities.
The defense picked up their quarterback from two interceptions in the first half by allowing 11 yards on 12 plays following each pick.
They gave their team a chance. It looked like they might do it after this play to start the second half:
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 17, 2017
Then, the Steelers scored touchdowns on their first three drives of the second half. Two consecutive 10+ play, 75-yard drives right down the throat of the defense.
It was not that the Titans played miserably. It was mistake after mistake, poor second half play-calling and inability to make big plays in the big moments that spoiled a fifth straight win.
We’ve seen this defense play lights out over the four-game winning streak.
Before the Ravens victory, they had allowed two total touchdowns in three games.
They did it again in the first half against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh rushed for 65 yards on 21 carries. They limited Le’Veon Bell. And, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked three times by a Titans front-seven who may have had their best half of football this season.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) November 17, 2017
It all fell apart in the second half, but this defense is no fraud.
Adoree’ Jackson continues to get better each game and had a tough task against the best receiver in football right now– who makes plays like this.
Allow him to reintroduce himself.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 17, 2017
The rookie, 18th overall pick saved a touchdown on a veteran play to rip the ball from Brown’s hands as he fell to the turf. He also added 11 tackles and two passes defended, making tackles in the open field. He ran with Brown stride for stride until the second half onslaught.
There is no doubt the defense played well enough to win. The secondary and pass rush stepped up in a big way early on. They stopped the Steelers in the red zone and minimized damage to six points off of turnovers.
But, a defense can only hold up so long.
Stage got brighter, Mariota couldn’t handle it
Too much was on the line for the Titans to get a win tonight.
A win would’ve given the Titans their seven wins in their first 10 games since 2008. They would’ve had the longest winning streak since 2009 at five.
They were on national television.
And… They were not ready. Their quarterback was not ready.
Mariota threw four interceptions, the most of his career, against a secondary decimated by injuries to corner Joe Haden and safety Mike Mitchell. It was also the most by a Steelers defense in 20 years.
He made uncharacteristic, bad throws.
— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) November 17, 2017
He made the wrong reads.
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) November 17, 2017
Sure, his receivers did not help him out after another dropped touchdown pass in back-to-back weeks–this time Delanie Walker.
But, Mariota never seemed comfortable. He never seemed settled, as he threw for 303 yards on 22/33 passing, a touchdown and four interceptions.
And, the team never was settled in their blowout loss on Thursday night football.
The Titans will take on the Colts next Sunday in Indianapolis, looking to get their first sweep of the season series since 2002.