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Titans offense wastes valiant defensive effort in lowly loss to Texans

NFL: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans should have steamrolled the Houston Texans. Everything on paper indicated they would, despite being incredibly shorthanded on both sides of the ball. After all, the Titans have overcome those injuries to beat much better opponents in recent weeks. It wasn’t to be.

Tennessee’s defense is legitimately good. We’ve learned that in recent weeks. They weren’t perfect on Sunday, but they held up their end of the bargain. They’re a tough and physical unit that have won some games as of late. Even they couldn’t overcome a sloppy offensive performance that included an astounding four interceptions by Ryan Tannehill, who now unfortunately leads the league in that category with 12 picks in 11 games.

Defensive performances largely don’t matter when the offense is going to waste them.

That’s what the game on Sunday felt like: A waste. The defense was good, holding the Texans to just 190 yards of offense, including a measly 107 passing yards from Tyrod Taylor, who used his legs to rush for two touchdowns. Ironically, the 190 yards allowed represented a season low for the Titans through 11 games. They gave the offense several chances to crawl back and win the game. Tannehill and his patched together group of receivers wasted all of them.

Head coach Mike Vrabel was not impressed.

“We got beat today,” Vrabel said following the game. “We turned the ball over five times. If you don’t play well in this league, I don’t care who [the opponent] is, you’re going to lose when you turn the ball over. Nobody wants to hear that, but when you do that, it doesn’t matter what their [opponent] record is. We had five turnovers and they had zero. You’re going to lose that game 99% of the time.”

Tannehill was quick to place the blame on himself.

“At the end of the day, it falls squarely on me,” Tannehill said. I have to be better. We moved the ball, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We had multiple turnovers and turnovers on downs. We had some penalties. We shot ourselves in the foot all day long. We have to be better, and that starts with me.”

Of course it does, and it won’t take much for Tannehill to be better than he was on Sunday. That’s not to say these performances aren’t starting to become concerning. The offense wasn’t particularly good against the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints either, but winning cures all. When you lose, issues become more prominent. The offense has yet to truly play a good game without Derrick Henry, and that’s a scary thought as they prepare for the final stretch of the regular season.

Blame whatever you want for Sunday’s debacle – Tannehill’s decision making, Henry’s injury, or a plethora of injuries at the wide receiver position. All of these issues share the blame. It doesn’t make it any less scary.

Tannehill and the offense dragged down the defense on Sunday, and wasted a season-best performance in several areas. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen again.