After racing out to a 17-7 halftime lead, the Tennessee Titans were shut-out in the second half as they relinquished 17 unanswered points in their disappointing 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
With the loss, the Titans now find themselves sitting at 4-4, an appropriate mark for a team that's been a bit Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde through the midway point of the season.
More on today's defeat to the Bengals...after the jump.
Andy Dalton....starring as Matt Hasselbeck
The Titans chances of winning this game came unraveled thanks to a veteran-like performance from Cincy rookie signal-caller Andy Dalton. Unfazed by the defense and playing well beyond his years, the red-headed, rookie rifleman played with a high level of poise and made plays when they mattered the most as he tossed a career-high three touchdown passes on the afternoon.
Much of Dalton's success can be attributed to the Titans' continued struggles getting after the quarterback. Through eight games, the Titans have sacked opposing quarterbacks on only 14 occasions.
Quite frankly, that isn't going to get it done if the Titans are to emerge as contenders rather than pretenders in the AFC playoff race.
A step in the right direction for CJ
With all of the recent scrutiny surrounding his well-documented struggles, CJ played like he cared today, showing glimpses of the blur-like burst we've all become accustomed to witnessing. Johnson carried the ball 14 times for 64 yards, while also snagging 4 grabs for 46 yards catching the pigskin.
Still a long ways to go but hopefully, it's a sign of things to come for Johnson as we approach the second half of the season.
Final random thoughts
-The Titans' ill-fated last drive was a stern reminder of how much Kenny Britt is missed in the passing game. His absence deprives the team of its one true perimeter threat who can make plays on the exterior of the gridiron.
Without Britt, the Titans are now reduced to the dink-and-dunk passing attack over the middle of the field, which can be effective at times but shouldn't be the weapon of choice when you're running the two-minute drill down by seven late in the ballgame.
-Speaking of receiving threats, it's nice to see the youngsters make plays in the passing game. Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins each scored touchdowns and despite a costly fumble, Jared Cook also stepped up with four catches on the afternoon.
-I definitely liked the offense's aggressive approach in the first-half, eschewing a field-goal to go for it on a 4th and 3 that led to a touchdown. That sequence was a 180 from the Fisher-ball approach we've witnessed over the last decade or so.
-A record of 4-4 isn't the end of the world, but losses like today have a way of coming back to bite you when it comes to playoff tie-breakers.
Of course, the Titans are going to have to step it up if they're going stay in what appears to be an extremely competitive AFC playoff race.
Any thoughts of your own on today's disappointing loss? Feel free to vent/provide you're always welcomed feedback below.
It's was always pretty unlikely that this Titans team would make a serious play-off bid and given the way the teams in the north and east are playing the chances of more than one time coming out of the AFC South is extremely remote. I don't think the Texans are going to slip up so badly that they let the Titans through, sadly. I am not sure what dismays me more at the moment - the complete lack of pass rush or the anaemic offense. The final 2-minute drill was painful to watch but then so was the sight of two rookies shredding the defense in the second half. There's some glaring holes on both sides of the ball and half-way in, it's hard to say that the coaching is significantly better than last year (it is better just not by that much really). Still, that said, at least the first half was fun to watch!
This is the sort of game I expected before the season started; close, competitive, but ultimately not enough on either side of the ball to be a consistent threat in the division/conference. I was happy in that mindset...Then the Jags imploded, Manning went down and we started 3-1. Expectations adjusted and winning the division was the goal. For me, that's the issue, this team raised the expectations of the fan base with some early success and now losses like this sting much worse. I think 4-4 is about right, and I think with Kenny Britt we would have won yesterday, but overall this is the Titans of the present: consistently inconsistent.
I agree with you that a loss like this will come back to bite the Titans. I hate to always see the glass half empty, but this loss is one of those the Titans have to win if they are to have any chance of making the playoffs. Essentially, this loss ends the Titans hope for a playoff spot. At 4-4, with only 3 home games left in the season, this team will be lucky to get to 8 and 8, and could be more like 6-10. With the ongoing problems with the run game, the inconsistent passing game in the absence of Britt, and the inability to pressure the QB on defence, there are way too many holes on this team to win more than 2 or 3 games the rest of the way. It's too bad, back when we were 3 and 1, I really started to believe that this was going to be a fun year because it looked like the team could compete with anybody. Now with the blowout losses to the Steelers and Texans and this frustrating home loss to an average Benglas team, the previous optimism has vanished.