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Titans fight, come up just short against Todd Gurley and the Rams, 27-23

So close.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans had a better showing than most of us thought they would today, but came up just short against the Rams. Here’s how it played out.

After getting a stop on their first drive, bad Marcus Mariota returned. He handed the Rams the ball back on a horrific interception. A big pass to Cooper Kupp put the Rams on the goal line, where Jared Goff hit Todd Gurley in the flats to punch it in the endzone.

The Rams had grabbed an early 6-0 lead.

Contrary to what we’ve seen for most of the season, the Titans were able to immediately bounce back. A big pass over the middle to Corey Davis put the Titans in Rams’ territory. Mariota came back with a strike to Eric Decker to get the Titans into the redzone. The drive stalled though after getting to the goal line. The Titans settled for three points from Ryan Succop.

The Rams came back with a quick drive that went right down the field, using Todd Gurley almost exclusively. They got down into the redzone, where the Titans have been stingy as of late. Tennessee stood tall once again, getting to Goff on a key third down. New Rams’ kicker Sam Ficken missed the ensuing field goal attempt, keeping the Titans within striking distance.

Mariota couldn’t get anything done on the following drive though, handing the ball right back to the Rams with five minutes to play before halftime.

Following that punt, Jurrell Casey flipped this game on its head, blowing up Jared Goff as he was handing off to Todd Gurley in the backfield. Goff fumbled and the Titans scooped it up and scored.

All of the sudden, the Titans held a 10-6 lead.

That lead lasted for about two whole minutes. Gurley took a screen pass 80 yards to answer, reclaiming a 13-10 lead.

Credit Mariota being able to get something together quickly though. The offense got down the field quickly, adding a field goal before the halftime break. All things considered, going back into the locker room tied up at 13 was a huge win for this team.

After trading punts, Mariota hit Corey Davis to open a drive over the middle. Davis got free and powered on for 37 yards, getting the Titans into scoring position. Tennessee didn’t do anything with it though — and Succop missed the field goal try to keep the game tied.

Right on cue, Gurley flipped the field with a huge run. The Rams fed him the ball a couple more times, but were faced with a key 4th down near the Titans’ ten. They picked that up with ease and got into the endzone with Sammy Watkins on the next play.

It was back to a Rams lead, 20-13.

Needing an answer badly, Adoree Jackson answered that call with a long return. Mariota hit Rishard Matthews for a big play down the sidelines, then DeMarco Murray punched it in on the goal line to tie things back up.

The Titans went onside kick to follow and recovered it. However, the referees initially ruled the Rams called a timeout before the kick, then took that back. They ruled that the ball was never put into play, taking the recovery away from Tennessee. That ruling gave the Rams the ball back, instead of it coming back to a hot Titans’ offense. No further explanation was ever offered.

However, the Rams went three and out after a drop from Cooper Kupp.

Mariota went back into the no-huddle attack, speeding right down the field. Big plays to Eric Decker and Matthews got the Titans in the redzone one more time. Tennessee couldn’t punch this one in though, stalling out around the 10. Succop hit the field goal to give the Titans a 23-20 lead.

Field goals weren’t going to win this game though. The Rams drove the length of the field in an instant, capping it with a touchdown to Kupp to re-take the lead at 27-23.

Tennessee needed another answer from Marcus Mariota, but he couldn’t do it this time. Kern punted, giving the Rams a chance to put this one on ice.

They couldn’t do it though. A three and out would give the Titans another chance to take the lead. The offense took over from their own 31.

Mariota got it to Davis for 19 yards to start the drive, but the Titans could do nothing else. The Titans punted once again.

Goff converted a key 3rd and 8 to keep the Rams driving. They stayed aggressive, dialing up several throws during this sequence. Goff was faced with another third down two plays later, but converted it to Kupp to get past midfield.

The Rams tried Gurley on this drive, but the Titans’ rush defense finally stood tall. Goff was forced to go back to the air on a 3rd and 11. This time, Tennessee got a stop. The Rams punted from the Titans’ 48, right into the endzone.

Mariota and company took over from the 20 yard line with 3:25 to play. Runs from Mariota and Murray got the drive started with a first down. Murray then left the game with a lower body injury, bringing in Derrick Henry for the final two minutes of action.

Mariota misfired on two straight, bringing up 3rd and 10. Mariota checked down to Henry, setting up a massive 4th and 4. Nothing came open on 4th down and Mariota couldn’t scramble out of it.

The Titans turned it over on downs.

The Rams drained the clock on the next possession, sending the Titans to 8-7. Tennessee can still get into the playoffs next week, which we’ll break down later. With this loss, the Jaguars are your AFC South champions.

Tennessee will play their final regular season game in Nashville next Sunday against Jacksonville.