The Tennessee Titans squandered opportunities on Sunday and it cost them.
Ryan Fitzpatrick comes up short of the end zone on this scramble.
Three turnovers and a drive that ended with four failed attempts to score from the 1-yard line all played a big part in the Titans' 26-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The loss dropped the Titans to 3-2 on the season, as they played without starting quarterback Jake Locker, who was out with a hip injury. Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was inconsistent, but the Titans woes on Sunday went far beyond their quarterback issues.
“I think we're all frustrated,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “I think a lot of guys didn't make plays when they had to tonight.”
Things looked bleak for the Titans right out of the gate, thanks to a special teams miscue.
After the Titans forced Kansas City to punt on the opening series, return man Darius Reynaud let the ball bounds and roll and it hit teammate Damian Williams on the foot.
That contact made the ball live, and though Williams chased it, the Chiefs' Marcus Cooper fell on the ball in the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead.
“It hit my foot. I was blocking and the ball hit my foot. I never saw the ball obviously, but it hit me, and I was trying to get the ball. I didn't hear (Darius). On the replay, I could see his hands, but I didn't hear him,” Williams said.
That was just first miscue of the day for a Titans team that had entered the day with no turnovers for the season through the first four games.
Kansas City added to the lead on the first play of the second quarter as Ryan Succop capped a five play, 53-yard march with a 29-yard field got to push the lead to 10-0.
Meanwhile, the Titans offense was doing nothing but going three-and-out. It took until the 8:08 mark of the second quarter for Tennessee to move the sticks with its first first down.
The offense got rolling when Jackie Battle rumbled off tackle for 37 yards to put the ball down at the Chiefs 16. On the next play, Fitzpatrick found Delanie Walker on a pass to set up first-and-goal from the 1.
It seemed as if the Titans could get back in the game, but Tennessee was stopped four times from the 1, with Battle being stuffed on the fourth-down try.
“We've just got to get it in. Regardless of assignments or somebody getting beat physically, there's no excuse,” Battle said. “We've just got to find a way to get it in. To get the ball down inside the 5-yard line and not get it in, there's no excuse for it.”
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains called not getting in for the score “unacceptable.”
“That was disappointing. The second play we had a touchdown pass. Delanie is open. Andy (Levitre) got tripped up and hit the quarterback, and the ball gets batted. But third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 from the 1, you've got to punch that in. That's unacceptable,” he said.
To make matters worse, the Chiefs wasted no time moving back down the field. On the first play, Alex Smith hit Donnie Avery for 41 yards, and then found Sean McGrath for 25 more yards. The tired and perhaps shell-shocked Titans defense managed to regroup and hold the Chiefs to a field goal making the score 13-0.
Tennessee found some life in the third quarter as Ryan Fitzpatrick, who struggled in the first half, flipped a pass to Chris Johnson, who raced 49 yards to cut the lead to 13-7. Johnson had stayed in to block and then got up off the ground and became a receiver. The play was strictly improv on Fitzpatrick's part.
“That's just on the fly,” Fitzpatrick said. “I'm kind of running around and saw CJ getting up off the ground and threw it to him and, you know, obviously, his specialty is when he gets in space, so he made a nice little run.”
That play seemed to spark the Titans for a time, as Tennessee, which had been listless offensively in the first half, pulled within 13-10, getting a 22-yard field goal from Rob Bironas.
Another Titans drive capped the strong third quarter and was finished off by Fitzpatrick on the opening play of the final period with a 9-yard scramble for a TD. That put the Titans up 17-13 and seemingly in control, until problems haunted Tennessee again.
The Titans defense had seemingly stopped the Chiefs on a third-down scramble by Alex Smith, only to have linebacker Moise Fokou get penalized 15 yards for a late hit to extend the drive that eventually became the go-ahead touchdown.
Fitzpatrick then tried to rally the Titans, but two consecutive drives ended with interceptions – the first two turnovers of the season for the Tennessee offense.
“We knew sooner or later it was gonna catch up to us, and today was the game where it caught up to us. These next two games, we're playing great teams. Both of them are playoff-bound teams, so it's not gonna get any easier,” safety Michael Griffin said.
The Titans travel to Seattle next week and return home on Oct. 20 to face San Francisco.