NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans (8-3) could not get out of their way against a beleaguered Houston Texans (2-8) on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill’s turnovers damned Tennessee on a day where the margin for error was as large as its been all season.
The Titans washed out against a Houston team that desperately wanted to give this one away.
Tannehill’s four interceptions proved Tennessee was more than willing to give it right back. The offense has largely languished without Derrick Henry in the line-up and Sunday at Nissan Stadium was no different. In fact, the Titans moved the ball against the Texans as well as they have any opponent in the last three weeks.
Four interceptions and a fumble lost, however, outweigh 420 net yards of offense and conversion rate of 40% on third down.
Titans felt due for a stinker
Dropping the first AFC South game of the season to a (previously) one-win Texans team cannot be excused.
Saying that a team was due for a loss probably rings as hollow or lazy analysis. It is also completely understandable that a roster that has been ravaged by injury the way this one has could falter at any given point. Tennessee’s players and coaches acknowledged that after a shaky Week 10 victory over the New Orleans Saints was not any kind of overwhelming. The Titans were successful in surviving a six-game stretch without faltering.
Better NFL teams have lost to worst opponents before, and better NFL teams will lose to lesser opponents again.
“Mistakes,” said coach Mike Vrabel. “Mistakes. And you know, that’s unfortunate because we put some drives together. We gained yards. Just couldn’t finish. Again, just felt like we were our own worst enemy and would get into some drives and not be able to convert or turn the football over.”
Tennessee has overcome its own blunders before. They did so in rattling off six consecutive victories after getting bounced by a (then) winless New York Jets team.
Tannehill’s troubles made the difference
Tannehill has never struggled quite that badly since taking over as starter in Week 7 of 2019.
13 touchdowns to 12 interceptions simply will not get the job done.
“We were moving the ball well,” said Tannehill. “We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot. Turnovers, turnover on downs, penalties. We shot ourselves in the foot all day, and we’ve got to be better. It starts with me.”
Tannehill has never had an outing quite that poor. Sunday against Houston was the first four-interception game of his career. The last time Tannehill threw three picks in a game, he was quarterbacking the 2016 Miami Dolphins to a 38-6 road loss at the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.
I wrote earlier this week that the Titans go as Tannehill does.
Today they did precisely that. The different between an NFL team at 8-3 and 2-8 is not nearly as drastic as the win-loss ledger would lead you to believe. There will be overreaction, there will be calls for drafting future quarterbacks and on and on the cycle goes. No great revelations about how good or bad the local professional football team is will come from this.
That way of thinking largely misses the point.
Tennessee got its ass kicked today and the Texans deserved to beat them. The formula to success lies within the ever-growing injury report.
All the Titans can do now is avoid sputtering at New England and pray to the merciless football gods they get right with a Week 13 bye.
Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.