The Tennessee Titans lost a heartbreaker this evening in Nashville. The AFC’s No. 1 seed fell to the fourth-seeded Bengals, as Cincinnati connected on a field goal at the buzzer.
Ryan Tannehill threw three picks, which was enough for the Bengals to overcome giving up nine sacks.
Here’s how it happened.
Ryan Tannehill was picked off on the first play from scrimmage as Todd Downing tried to get aggressive with play-action. Jessie Bates jumped the route and capitalized, putting the Tennessee defense in an early bind.
The Titans stood tall though, holding the Bengals to just three points.
Ja’Marr Chase flipped the field on Cincinnati’s next possession, taking a quick pass 57 yards on a catch and run. Once again though, Tennessee’s defense kept Joe Burrow out of the endzone, keeping the game within one score.
Finally, the Titans found the scoreboard. A big play to A.J. Brown finally woke up the offense, and Derrick Henry capped off the drive, scoring from the Wildcat. The Titans would go for two after a Cincinnati penalty, but failed to convert from the one.
A 6-6 tie turned into a 9-6 lead for the Bengals after a couple of big throws to Tee Higgins.
Tennessee’s front four was dominant, racking up five first half sacks. However, inconsistent offense held back the Titans early, particularly the play of Ryan Tannehill. Coming out of halftime, that’s what had to change.
However, the Bengals got the ball to open the third quarter and immediately went to work with Joe Mixon. Right down the field they went, and Mixon found paydirt. A five-plus minute drive gave the Bengals a 16-6 lead, and the Titans had to come out swinging with a response.
And that they did — until they didn’t.
Two chunk runs from Henry and another huge run from D’Onta Foreman put the Titans in striking range. But a quick bubble pass was batted into the air and picked off by Mike Hilton, who returned it to midfield. It was a frustrating moment from Todd Downing, who got cute after riding the rushing attack down the field.
The Tennessee defense got the three and out that they had to have, and the Titans went back to work on the ground. Henry earned a first down, and then Tannehill went to Brown for 40. The drive stalled in the redzone thought, and Randy Bullock added three.
The new score was 16-9 Bengals, with 1:36 left in the third quarter.
And then it happened — the game-changing play that the Titans needed. Amani Hooker came up with a tipped pass, scraping it off the blades of grass for the interception. The Titans regained possession at the Cincinnati 27.
Tannehill found A.J. Brown immediately to cash in. Just like that we had a tie game at 16 a piece.
Tennessee continued its dominance of the Cincinnati offensive line, forcing a punt on the next drive. Downing went back to the ground game, this time riding Foreman. However, the drive stalled at the Cincinnati 40, and the Bengals came up with a huge stop on fourth and one. Henry was stuffed at the line, and Burrow and company had new life.
It was a slow developing run call from Downing, and the Bengals blew it up to regain possession.
Once again, Burrow couldn’t do anything with it. The Titans absolutely dominated up front, picking up their eighth and ninth sacks on the day to force a punt.
Tennessee got the ball back with 2:43 to play. Tannehill took it down to the two-minute warning, then got the drive going with a strike to Julio Jones. The clock ticked down under 40 seconds, and Tannehill’s pass was broken up and picked off.
Burrow took over at the Tennessee 47, and immediately found Ja’Marr Chase to get into field goal range.
Evan McPherson connected just a couple of plays later at the buzzer.
The Bengals won 19-16.
This was a game of missed opportunities for the Titans, who couldn’t overcome the turnover bug today. They were dominant defensively against a white hot offense, but in the end made too many mistakes on the other side of the ball. Tennessee outgained Cincinnati, but a 1/8 mark on third downs coupled with the turnovers ultimately doomed the effort.
The Bengals now move on to face the winner of the Bills-Chiefs game tomorrow.