There would be no fourth-quarter heroics for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, as a last-minute drive that could have tied the game, ended in frustration and a 17-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
The Titans took the football at their own 20 with 1:51 to play, and moved the ball all the way down inside the Raiders’ 5-yard line on a Marcus Mariota pass to Tajae Sharpe.
However, at the end of the play, left tackle Taylor Lewan was flagged for unnecessary roughness for blasting into the pile, putting the Titans back to the 18, where it was still first and goal.
From there, the Titans had four chances to try and score, but a touchdown pass to Andre Johnson was called back for offensive pass interference, and finally a fourth-down pass to Harry Douglas fell incomplete as the Raiders held on to claim the victory.
“If we want to be a good team, we’ve got to learn how to pull through in those close games,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “But there is one thing I will say. I’m proud of my teammates. We stuck in and we fought hard till the final seconds ticked off the clock. We gave ourselves a chance to win, but we’ve got to do better.”
It was a day of struggles for the Titans offense, which turned the ball over three times in the game against a Raiders defense that had given up more than 500 yards in each of the first two games this season. Quarterback Marcus Mariota lost a fumble in the first half and was intercepted twice in the game. Mariota was just 17 of 33 for 214 yards in the game.
Despite the offensive problems, the Titans defense held the Raiders at bay, holding Oakland scoreless in the second half and giving the offense one last chance to tie the game in the final two minutes on the drive that went awry in the red zone.
“I thought they (the defense) played great,” Mariota said. “They gave us an opportunity to win the game. For us on the offensive side of the ball, we’ve got to match what they’re doing.”
The loss drops the Titans to 1-2 on the year and continues their futility at home with another loss.
It also wasted a 16-carry, 114-yard day for running back DeMarco Murray, the first time a Titans running back had gone over 100 yards since Chris Johnson did against Houston in the 2013 finale.
“He was running. That’s the way he is, he’s a big, physical runner,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “I felt like at the time, give him the ball right now. He’s in a groove. A lot of these guys, the more they get it, the better they are, and he was making a lot of yards after contact.”
It was Murray’s rushing that put the Titans back in the game, after they trailed 17-3 at the half. Murray’s 5-yard touchdown run with 5:51 to play in the third quarter drew Tennessee to within striking distance. But the Titans could not capitalize in a game where their mistakes came home to roost, especially on the final drive.
“It’s definitely a heartbreaker, but we’ve just got to move on. I’m not going to say anything negative. It won’t do us no good,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “We’re sitting here 1-2. We’ve got to bounce back. It still hurts, no doubt about it. We had that game – driving. It was right there in our grasp, but we weren’t able to finish.”