NASHVILLE – The Titans let one get away on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
And they have no one to blame but themselves.
“It’s super frustrating,” Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said after the team’s 14-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. “We tried to put together a game on both sides of the ball, and we just couldn’t get it together. We couldn’t make enough plays.”
Members of the offense put the loss on them. No one was arguing with that conclusion, although kicker Cairo Santos also spent post-game beating himself up as well.
The Titans scored just one touchdown on Sunday and squandered too many chances. Four missed field goals by Santos didn’t help the cause, but pass protection was also shaky once again and too many drives stalled in the red zone.
The Titans also racked up eight penalties for 60 yards, including several that came at inopportune times.
“We feel like we shot ourselves in the foot over and over again like we did in other losses,” tackle Jack Conklin said. “And we have to get that fixed. We knew they were a physical defense and give them credit – it looks like they were more physical than us today. We have to be better.
“The defense played great – we let them down.”
In a defensive slugfest, the Titans simply didn’t land enough punches.
And they eventually got knocked out.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 13-of-22 passes for 183 yards against the Bills, but he was sacked five times.
Running back Derrick Henry ran for 78 yards on 20 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run.
But it wasn’t enough as the Bills left Nissan Stadium with a win. With the loss, the Titans fell to 2-3.
“When it comes down to it, out defense is playing outstanding,” Mariota said. “And we just have to play better complementary football.”
It was part of a frustrating day for the Titans, and the team’s fans.
“When you lose a game in this league it is always frustrating,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “I think there were a lot of missed opportunities and self-inflicted wounds. … We didn’t do enough. We didn’t play well enough, we didn’t coach well enough.”
Trailing in the third quarter, the Titans tied the game 7-7 on a one-yard touchdown run by Henry, which capped off a seven-play, 38-yard drive.
The drive was set up by an interception by safety Kevin Byard.
Momentum appeared to be shifting.
But the Bills reclaimed the lead 14-7 with 9:46 left on a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Allen to Duke Williams. It came after the Titans had two touchdowns called back because of penalties — and following a fourth straight missed field goal from Santos.
It was a tough day for Santos, who misfired on a 50-yard field goal early, and then missed on kicks from 36 yards, 33 yards and 53 yards. The 33-yarder was tipped at the line of scrimmage and fell short
“It was a very painful, disappointing day,” Santos said. “I don’t feel sorry for myself, I feel sorry for my teammates and coaches. I haven’t missed four kicks even in practice in years. So just sorry. … (My teammates) deserve for me to do my job better.”
Vrabel didn’t blame Santos, and neither did his teammates.
“This is a guy that’s made some kicks for us,” Vrabel said of Santos, who is now 4-of-9 on the season. “We’ll have to do a better job of making them, and coaching him, and executing them.”
The game was a defensive battle, which was expected.
The Bills took a 7-0 lead with 2:36 left in the first half on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Allen to tight end Lee Smith. Earlier, the Titans defense held the Bills on a 4th down try at the 30-yard line in the first quarter and the game remained 7-0 at the half.
With the game tied after three quarters, this was a game there for the taking.
But on this day, the Titans left it on the table.
The Titans travel to Denver to face the Broncos next Sunday.
“Leadership is critical right now,” Byard said. “At times like this, the culture of this team is going to be tested – I think we have a good culture here. There will be bad days, but bad times don’t last, tough people do. We just have to keep fighting through this and try to go win a game on the road.”