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Close loss, but Titans believe they’re progressing

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NASHVILLE — Close, but no cigar again for the Tennessee Titans.

The good news is that the Titans are staying in games where last year they were blown out in many a game on their way to a 2-14 season.

Through three weeks this season, the Titans have been in every contest with one win and chances to win the other two games, losses to the Browns and the Colts.

The Titans never led against Cleveland in Week 2, but rallied to get within 21-14 in the second half before falling by two touchdowns. Then on Sunday in Indianapolis, the Titans seemingly had the game in hand before blowing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and eventually falling, 35-33.

“We’re doing a lot of things better. It’s hard right now. I mean, it’s tough. That was a game where we had done a lot of good things. We’d come from 14 down, controlled the game and taken a 13-point lead against a good football team, and to lose it, it hurts,” head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “But yeah, I think that there are a lot of positive signs on our offense of things that we’re doing, and we have to build off of that. I mean, listen, we can’t turn the ball over. We’ve got to correct some mistakes. We’ve got to do a better job of protecting the quarterback. But we had a lot of plays yesterday that were big jumps, a lot more than you see from a normal NFL game. There are a lot of good signs.”

But Whisenhunt did acknowledge that close is not good enough, even for a team that still has a long way to go before it could be considered a contender.

“We have to find a way to get over the hump,” Whisenhunt said.

The good news is that the Titans will have two weeks to figure out ways to get over that hump as they have a bye in Week 4.

REPORT CARD VS. COLTS

–PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus. The Titans’ Marcus Mariota set a rookie franchise record for passing yards with 367 on Sunday, and Mariota brought the Titans back from blowing a late lead with a chance to tie the game. However, he also had two passes picked off, one of which was returned for a TD.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus. The Titans continue to use a running back by committee approach and it seems as if a different back leads the way each week. This week it was Antonio Andrews with 49 yards. Last week, it was Dexter McCluster and the week before it was Bishop Sankey. It has worked OK, but the Titans are graded down here because they failed to score a TD on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line and missed on a two-point run that could have tied the game.

–PASS DEFENSE: D. The Titans gave up two third-and-20 completions, including one for a touchdown that put the Colts back in the game and played a role in them coming back to win the game.

–RUN DEFENSE: C-minus. The Titans allowed Frank Gore to run for 86 yards and two touchdowns. The Titans’ linebackers seem to miss too many tackles that could hold runners for smaller gains.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Ryan Succop made two field goals in the game and Blidi Wreh-Wilson downed a Brett Kern punt at the 2-yard line. It was probably the special teams’ best game of the year.

— COACHING: D. Ken Whisenhunt made the decision to go with a jumbo package to try and tie the game in the final minute. The move appeared to be a little bit too predictable, creating second guessing when it didn’t work.


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