Hold those thoughts about the Tennessee Titans taking control of the AFC South.
In fact, the Titans have to be worried about simply taking back control of themselves after the Houston Texans handed them the worst loss in the history of LP Field, 41-7, on Sunday.
The Titans entered Sunday's game with a chance to put some distance between themselves and the Texans with a victory, but now find themselves at 3-3, with what has to feel like the largest half-game deficit in NFL history with the dressing down they took Sunday.
“We got embarrassed and embarrassed in our own backyard. That's the tough part about being embarrassed,” said safety Michael Griffin, whose whiff on a tackle allowed Arian Foster to complete a 78-yard catch and run for a touchdown that made the score 10-0.
For the Titans, things have come unraveled in a hurry.
The running game is still virtually non-existent as $53 million man Chris Johnson struggled to 18 yards on 10 carries in the game.
“If you're watching the game and you really can't tell what's going on with the run game, then obviously you don't know football,” Johnson said.
It didn't look as if the Titans knew much about how to solve the Texans on Sunday in any facet of the game.
Not only was the run game stuck in neutral, the passing game that had bailed the Titans out earlier in the year was devoid of big plays, as Matt Hasselbeck had no completion longer than 17 yards.
“I think misfiring is a good way to say it,” said Hasselbeck, who was 14 of 30 for just 104 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions – one of which Brice McCain returned 38 yards for the Texans' final touchdown. “We had some plays called back because of penalties, and we had some opportunities, but we just misfired.”
For a Titans team that has been used to having its way at the Texans expense for the better part of this rivalry, it was a disturbing loss.
“We definitely are used to punching them in the mouth, but they're a better team now,” Hall said.
Coach Mike Munchak said the blowout is cause for reassessment and re-evaluation of everything.
“I think when you lose like that, you should re-evaluate everything,” Munchak said. “You can't let it shake you to where that you change everything that you are doing because of one game, because you have to believe in what you do. But you have to have guys that take ownership of what they do.”
The Texans so dominated the Titans that on Sunday not only did Foster slice them for 115 yards on the ground, but backup Ben Tate added 104 more, as Houston total 222 yards as a team rushing.
Matt Schaub wasn't bad either. After missing on his first three passes of the day, Schaub completed 18 of the remaining 20 for 296 yards and two touchdowns.
“It was just bad football all around,” linebacker Barrett Ruud said. “We were just way too inconsistent. It seemed like there was a mistake or two on way too many plays. Houston's got a good offense. And when you make a few mistakes, we were not nearly consistent enough to play with them today.”
Now, the Titans have to face the reality of two bad losses in a row against AFC contenders sandwiched around a bye week. Just before the bye, Tennessee was blown out 38-17 in Pittsburgh.
“The same problem that we had against Pittsburgh is the same problem we had this week,” Griffin said.
Munchak said the Titans have to own up to the poor performance and rectify it some way.
“We’ve got a lot to fix. Obviously, we’re not happy with the product we put on the field today. It’s on all of us, coaches, players, that’s not us. That can’t be us and we’ve got to prove it," he said.
Added Hall: “If the coaches see fit that there need to be some changes, they'll definitely make some. When you lose games like this, historically there are some changes. I don't know what those changes are going to be, but when something is broke, you've got to fix it.”
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