Well, that looked very good for about a quarter and a half.
The Tennessee Titans jumped out to a 21-10 lead in the middle of the second quarter of today's game in Denver against the Broncos. And then the Broncos took over on offense, scoring on each of their final seven possessions on offense. The Titans couldn't keep up with that kind of scoring pace, and the Broncos rolled to a 51-28 victory.
The keys to the good start? Big plays. Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Justin Hunter on a rare accurate deep ball for a 57-yard gain on the first possession to set up the 7-0 lead. After the Broncos then tied the game, Leon Washington returned the kickoff to the Broncos 3 to set up a score by Chris Johnson. The Titans would score a third touchdown, after pulling off their fourth-and-goal play from last week to convert a fourth-and-1 at midfield. That was a 23-yard gain, setting up a 28-yard score by Shonn Greene on a counter the next play.
And that was about the last Titans highlight of the game, save for Hunter getting open deep again and another accurate throw by Fitzpatrick for a 41-yard score to cut the deficit to 34-28. When the Broncos had the ball, they moved it virtually at will, finishing with 39 first downs in the game and 551 yards of total offense.
The defensive problems were comprehensive, starting with no pass rush (no sacks and officially one quarterback hit) and continuing with the coverage. It's hard to single out a single player who stood out, since approximately everybody in the back seven was beat for a big play or key conversion at least once during the game. Suffice to say, a Titans defense that had looked pretty good at times this season did not look anything close to it today. If not for some drops by the Broncos receivers, they score even more than they do.
On the bright side, all but the most wild-eyed optimists thought this was a game the Titans were very likely to lose. While the Dolphins and Ravens both came away with narrow wins to stay ahead of the rest of the pack today, the rest of the AFC is still pretty bad, so the Titans' playoff hopes are about as solid as they were before the game. They just need to take care of business and win their last three games, all winnable, and hope for the help they need. Stranger things have happened, after all (see 2006). And for those of you hoping for regime change, well, today doesn't hurt your argument either.
The refereeing was horrific again, with a few ridiculous calls against Pollard and Verner (and others). The Titans likely would have lost anyways but it would have been a closer game. And the defence might have even made the odd stop if the refs weren't seeing things. I was shocked by the absence of a pass rush. There were times when Peyton had 5 or 6 seconds to find a receiver. I don't understand it. Peyton has been hit and sacked by almost every opponent he faced this year. But not the Titans. I don't understand that.