We left the Titans with two wins and two losses last Friday. That was good enough for Tennessee to slip into a three-way tie with the Jaguars and Texans. Not all was rosy in Nashville however. Quarterback Marcus Mariota had pulled a hamstring in the blowout loss the previous week in Houston. Free agent signee safety Johnathan Cyprien who was sidelined with an injury in the opener remained out. Starting guard Quinton Spain and the Titans first pick from the 2017 draft Cory Davis also started the second quarter of the season hurt.
Game 5 @ Miami
The Dolphins came into this game on a two-game losing streak having scored exactly six-point total against the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints. On paper, the Titans should have handled business even with the injuries. They couldn’t. In a game that saw 233 passing yards from both teams combined, Miami quarterback Jay Cutler hit Jarvis Landry on a short pass for the winning score. It wasn’t that or even the defensive touchdown the Titans surrendered that gave me pause. What was concerning here was Tennessee’s inability to run the ball. 69 total yards on the ground will not get it done when you are a run first pass maybe offense. Dolphins 16 Titans 10
Game 6 Indianapolis
Tied for first one week, needing a win to stay out of the basement the next. The Colts brought an identical 2-3 record to Nashville for this Monday night football clash. Mariota, ready or not was back in the starting lineup after the Titans could only generate 210 total yards of offense the previous week. Tennessee did not disappoint in this one coming away with the win. Behind 306 yards from the young quarterback and 171 total rushing yards, the ship was righted. Or was it? 72 of those yards came on a Derrick Henry run in the final minute of the game. Take that away and the Titans are easily under 100 yards on the ground again. Titans 36 Colts 22
Game 7 @ Cleveland
I will take nothing away from the Cleveland Browns here. The Titans played poorly but that was a much a product of Cleveland realizing how limited the Titan offense really was and clamping down on it. As a team, Tennessee ran for 80 yards and a week after Mariota ran twice for zero yards he ran once for eight yards. Both those things indicated that Mariota, and Tennessee’s offense, were not healthy yet. Ryan Succop had one more kick in him than Zane Gonzales and he squeaked Tennessee by Cleveland in overtime. Titans 12 Browns 9.
Game 8 Baltimore
After a much-needed bye week, the Titans welcomed the Baltimore Ravens to Nissan Stadium. This one would see Tennessee get out to a first-quarter lead and never relinquish it. The Titan defense really stepped up when it had to and earned this victory. The offense again rushed for less than 100 yards with 71 this game. The Titans couldn’t stay on the field on offense. Baltimore ran 75 plays in this game against Tennessee’s 49. The defense survived for the second time in as many games. Titans 23 Ravens 20.
At the halfway point of the season, the Titans despite their struggles and injuries find themselves tied with Jacksonville for first place in the AFC South at 5 and 3. The second half of the season will feature games against the AFC North-leading Steelers and rematches with all three divisional opponents. It will also include three critical games against the rest of the NFC West.
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