Sloppy and simply not good enough.
The Tennessee Titans turned the ball over six times in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the division-leading Houston Texans Sunday at LP Field.
In falling to 4-8, the Titans defense played well at times, containing the explosive Texans offense for a good part of the day.
But the offense, in coordinator Dowell Loggains’ debut, sputtered through a terrible first half and by the time the Titans found any rhythm at all, it was too late.
“It was tough. No excuses are made, but this is still a young team. We have a lot of things to learn about with each other and some things about this offense. We just have to do a better job,” receiver Nate Washington said. “Plays were there to be made. Nothing is going to change overnight. We just have to do a better job of learning from this and moving forward.”
Jake Locker, who struggled through a terrible first half going 8 of 22 for 96 yards, found Kenny Britt for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:34 to play in the third quarter.
But two other chances for the Titans to get within striking distance went by the boards. The first drive ended when Locker slipped and was sacked on fourth down, fumbling at the 22 yard line.
On the next series, the Titans got as far as the Texans 33-yard line, but the drive stalled there as Kendall Wright dropped back-to-back passes that would have kept the drive alive.
Locker finished the day 21 of 45 for 309 yards, but had the three interceptions and two of the Titans’ three fumbles.
Early on, the Titans quarterback admitted he was pressing, and it showed as he was just 3 of his first 12 with an interception.
“I think that maybe I pressed a little bit early on, just wanting, really trying, to do well and allowing the game to come to you a little bit,” Locker said.
But it wasn’t as if all the Titans’ issues were on the young quarterback. He was on the run for much of the day, as Tennessee allowed six sacks. Tennessee lost tackle David Stewart to a broken ankle in the game, and guard Steve Hutchinson to a knee injury. Michael Roos was out for a time as well.
One of those hits even had Locker bleeding after biting his tongue. Locker also had five passes batted by Texans defensive linemen, including one of his interceptions, as well as several passes dropped by his intended targets.
The Titans also had key penalties that negated some big gains as well.
“It was real frustrating,” said Wright, who had the two drops in a row. “The positive about it was we had six turnovers and all the drops, and we were only down 14. We had opportunities to make a play and we just didn’t make it. I didn’t make it. I dropped one and he came back to me and the dude knocked it out. We have to make plays when the plays are there. We just can’t come out of the gates that slow.”
After scoring a 37-yard field goal on their first drive (but still trailing 7-3 thanks to Lestar Jean’s 54-yard touchdown reception), the game quickly went south for the Titans.
The Texans cashed in a nice punt return by Keshawn Martin to the Tennessee 20, as James Casey caught a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-3.
Then after Shaun Cody tipped a Locker pass into the arms of Tim Dobbins deep in Tennessee territory, Arian Foster scored on that two plays later to essentially put the game away, 21-3 with 7:48 still left in the first half.
In the second half, all the Titans, who allowed Shayne Graham’s 50-yard field goal in the third quarter, could do was drop back and throw and hope for a miracle comeback.
Tennessee did manage one sharp drive late in the third quarter with Locker hooking up with Kenny Britt for a 34-yard touchdown.
But twice more, the Titans drove into Texans territory with the opportunity to get back into the game, only to fail to capitalize.
One fourth-quarter drive reached the Texans’ 7-yard line, but a pass dropped off Jared Cook’s hands on third down, and Locker was sacked and fumbled on fourth down ending that threat.
On the next series, Locker drove Tennessee to the 33 of the Texans but then Wright dropped two straight slants.
“We just had too many errors,” Coach Mike Munchak said. “It just seemed like anytime we were getting momentum, they made a play and we didn’t.”