Same story, different day for the Tennessee Titans.
Downright bad offense combined with an incompetent first half gameplan had this game decided before the halftime break. It was another embarrassing effort for this coaching staff, which can’t seem to grasp how to attack an opponent’s weakness. But more on that later.
Between penalties, an interception from Kyle Allen and flat out bad protection of Ryan Tannehill, this first quarter was an ugly one. The Titans failed to take advantage of a 42 yard defensive pass interference call on the opening drive. Jamil Douglas, filling in for Ben Jones, was beaten for the sack to end the drive. Ryan Succop would miss his first field goal attempt returning for injury.
Kyle Allen tossed the ball right back to the Titans, however. It was Harold Landry snagging the ball after a tip, giving Tennessee a chance to take the lead. Penalties and more poor protections force another quick punt though.
Allen came back and connected on a big play down the sidelines to Curtis Samuel, bringing Carolina to life as the first quarter ended. The Panthers were able to add three points after the Tennessee defense got the stop.
The Titans? Well they stayed sloppy. Dion Lewis fumbled to hand it right back to the Panthers at midfield on the following drive. Even after the Titans got a stop, A.J. Brown dropped a pass — which ended up getting picked off by the Panthers.
Allen cashed in quickly, finding Christian McCaffrey in the flats to make it a 10-0 lead. It didn’t take Allen much longer to find Samuel for another score, making it a 17-0 lead.
It was a typical offensive performance for the Titans, who couldn’t protect Tannehill. Arthur Smith refused to give Derrick Henry carries, despite the fact that Carolina came into this one ranked 27th against the run. The defense, which usually carries this team, didn’t have it today — that’s going to happen from time to time. But the offense was a no-show as usual through one half.
Down 17, Arthur Smith remembered Derrick Henry was on the football team. Henry moved the chains on consecutive carries as the Titans moved into Carolina territory. Smith kept it up, and — big shocker here — the league’s 27th ranked run defense caved. Henry barrelled into the endzone to cut the lead back to ten.
But the defense, down Malcolm Butler, didn’t have a stop in them. Actually, they did, but Carolina faked a punt to keep the drive alive. A big play to D.J. Moore got Carolina to the one, then McCaffrey punched it in to reclaim that 17 point lead.
Tannehill opened the fourth quarter with a big play down the sidelines to Brown, then Henry capped the drive off with another score on a screen. The touchdown brought the deficit back to ten points with 14 minutes to play.
Carolina just wasn’t interested in letting this one get away. McCaffrey busted one open right up the gut to answer, taking us right back to a 17 point game.
An interception from Tannehill on the following possession would be the final nail. The Titans added another garbage time touchdown, but Ryan Succop missed a field goal attempt that would have allowed Tennessee to try an onside kick with under a minute to play.
Carolina went on to win 30-20.
Next up for Tennessee? The Kansas City Chiefs. And it sounds like Patrick Mahomes might just be ready to return to the lineup. That’s about the last team a 4-5 Titans team needing a win to stay in the playoff race wants to see.
Mike Vrabel better start finding some answers offensively. Unfortunately for him, those answers might not be on this roster.