Absolute zero: Offense struggles in shutout

HOUSTON - The old chicken and egg conundrum was at work with the Tennessee Titans offense on Sunday.

But in the end, the Titans laid an egg in Houston and wound up with one on the scoreboard as well in a 20-0 loss.

Was the passing game ineffective because of a rookie quarterback in Rusty Smith and receivers who dropped catchable passes in the game?

“Any time you start a rookie, in his first start, you talk all week about the importance of everyone picking their game up,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.

That certainly didn't happen on any level Sunday.

Smith completed 17 of 31 passes for 138 yards in his first NFL start on Sunday, but was intercepted three times by Glover Quin, including twice in the red zone. The Titans could not dent the scoreboard against a Texans team that entered the day with the league's worst-rated pass defense.

“Honestly, I wish I could have some of those throws back, but you can't get them back,” Smith said. “I thought I made some good decisions, some good throws, some bad decisions and some bad throws.”

There was plenty of blame to go around offensively, as Chris Johnson had a career-low 5 yards on seven carries.

Johnson was kept bottled up completely, as Johnson had more carries for negative yards (four) than he did for positive yards (three). That he had only seven carries all game is also telling.

“We could have run the ball on them, but we didn't run it,” Johnson said.

In fact, the Titans were missing on all cylinders, as not only could they not get Johnson going, they also dropped too many passes early when Smith was trying to find a rhythm.

“We wanted to accomplish some things and we didn't do it. We wanted to run the ball, and we didn't do it. It probably would have helped the passing game if we'd run it a little more, but we never could get CJ going,” tight end Bo Scaife said. “With the passing game, we had a couple of drops. Every time we had a chance to get into a rhythm and move the ball down the field, we blew it.”

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