Titans reach bye at .500 and able to finish games at home
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans get to rest now after clawing their way back to .500, salvaging a 2-4 start by winning three of their last four.
“We got a good bye week, timely bye week for us to rest up, get healthy, improve ...,” Titans cornerback Logan Ryan said Monday. “Get our guys back and get ready for an important stretch here, a lot of division games coming up, and obviously it’s all about how you finish in this league, and the finish is near. I think it’s a perfect bye week for us.”
If the Titans (5-5) can finish the season the way they’ve won three straight at home, then they might have a chance at their first playoff berth under second-year coach Mike Vrabel. They turned in an amazing goal-line stand to beat the Chargers on Oct. 20, then Ryan intercepted a pass inside the final minute to beat Tampa Bay on Oct. 27.
“Thank God that we were able to keep them to field goals in those situations,” Vrabel said.
The defense. Even with Patrick Mahomes throwing for 446 yards — the most the Titans have ever allowed at Nissan Stadium — they forced the Chiefs to settle for six field-goal attempts. The fifth was ruined by a bad snap before Kalu blocked the sixth.
They also scored another touchdown with linebacker Rashaan Evans returning a fumble 53 yards, even as the Titans dropped to the NFL’s No. 9 scoring defense.
“We’re trying to get to the playoffs,” safety Kevin Byard said. “We definitely want to be a great defense at the same time, but getting Ws and doing what we need to do to win games, that’s what it’s really all about.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Starting games. The Titans struggled again to do anything offensively, managing only 16 yards in the first quarter against the Chiefs and fell behind 10-0. They gave up two sacks, with Ryan Tannehill stripped of the ball on one. One improvement from last week? Derrick Henry got the ball five times in just 5:27 after having only two rushes in the first half of last week’s loss at Carolina.
Henry had the second-best rushing game of his career, with 188 yards, and he also ran for two TDs. He’s now fourth in the NFL with 832 yards rushing and fourth with eight TDs. He’s tied for the fifth most games in a player’s first four seasons in NFL history, with three career games of at least 170 yards and two TDs rushing, and only Jim Brown (six), Eric Dickerson (six), Earl Campbell (five) and Jamal Lewis (four) having more.
Left tackle Taylor Lewan. The three-time Pro Bowler had three more penalties, giving him a team-high nine for the season despite being suspended the first four games. Lewan apologized after the game and spoke again Monday in the locker room.
“The reality is those penalties aren’t good enough,” he said.
Four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey’s injured shoulder has kept him out of the past two games, while starting linebacker Jayon Brown also sat out with an injured groin that sidelined him during the loss at Carolina. Wide receiver Corey Davis sat out with a hip injury.
The Titans hope tight end Delanie Walker can return soon. He has missed three straight since aggravating his right ankle five snaps into the game against the Chargers.
10 — The Titans turned to Tannehill looking for a spark on offense. They’re scoring 26.2 points a game in Tannehill’s four starts, 10 points more than in Marcus Mariota’s six starts.
Rest up and heal for a six-game stretch run in which the Titans play three of the teams ahead of them in the AFC chase for the playoffs. The Jaguars (4-5), who visit on Nov. 23, are the only team left on Tennessee’s schedule currently below .500. The Titans visit Indianapolis (5-4) and Oakland (5-4), with two to play against AFC South division leader Houston (6-3).
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker