CINCINNATI _ It wasn't exactly the type of performance that the Tennessee Titans would want to hang their hat on and pronounce themselves ready for the regular season.
If you're looking for positives, there are still two more preseason games left to smooth out many of he problems the Titans showed Saturday night in falling 27-19 to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Also on the positive side, Jake Locker looked sharp for the most part, hitting on 12 of 20 passes for 116 yards, even though he was betrayed by three drops from his wide receivers in the first half.
There was the first-quarter sack, strip and fumble recovery by Jurrell Casey in the first half that proved to be the defensive highlight of the night.
In the second half, Ryan Fitzpatrick was sharp, tossing a pair of touchdown passes to keep the Titans close.
But other than that, it was mostly a forgettable night – especially on special teams and defense.
It certainly didn't help the Titans' cause either that they missed three first-half field goal tries – Rob Bironas missed from 38 and 37 yards and Maikon Bonani missed from 47 – as Tennessee trailed 17-3 at the end of the first half.
Those three misses, plus two of the drops on third downs, kept Tennessee's first-team offense from scoring more than just a 44-yard kick from Rob Bironas. Nate Washington could not haul in what would have been a touchdown pass in the first quarter, and in the second period, Jack Doyle dropped a pass that would have extended another drive that ended in a missed field goal.
“I thought we did a good job of moving the ball,” Locker said, “but we just need to find ways to score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit at times and stopped ourselves on some drives. But overall, I thought we moved the ball and were effective between the 20s.”
But the real concern for the Titans still appears to be a defense that has yet to find any consistency either in the pass rush or in tackling.
“We started off good with a turnover,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “We were hoping to get some points on the board, but we didn't do that. It seemed like the defense never got into a rhythm after that, and we struggled. We couldn't get stops, and we couldn't make plays.”
Things didn't get much better defensively in the second half as Tennessee allowed a 40-yard touchdown run by Dan Herron and a field goal off another drive.
“We had a lot of things that we have to work on, a lot of guys made a lot of mistakes ou there up front and on the back end, all across the board,” said Casey.
About the only highlight for Tennessee's defense, other than Casey's play, was a forced fumble by Zach Clayton that Nigel Nicholas recovered in the final two minutes of the game that thwarted a final Cincinnati scoring opportunity.
The Titans also played most of the game without Akeem Ayers, who suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter, and also without receiver Kendall Wright, who left in the first half with a knee injury.