After a two-week hiatus, the version of the Tennessee Titans that struggled with mistakes and showed an inability to be competitive returned Sunday in a 30-14 loss at Carolina.
The Titans gave up 17 second-quarter points to trail 17-0 at the half and never really challenged after that, never getting closer than 10 points to the Panthers.
The Titans lost three turnovers in the game, gave up a season-high 30 points and also had 11 penalties for 99 yards.
Tennessee, which fell to 4-5 with the loss, had a two-game winning streak snapped and lost a chance to escape the AFC South cellar in the process.
The Titans first drive of the day seemed to be a harbinger of how the day was going to go for Tennessee. The Titans benefitted from a pass interference call on the Panthers against Tajae Sharpe, but a 43-yard field goal attempted by newly activated kicker Ryan Succop sailed wide to the left.
Carolina got on the scoreboard with a 32-yard field goal, and then went up 10-0, cashing in following a Ryan Tannehill interception that bounced off receiver A.J. Brown’s hands and into the arms of Panthers defensive back Donte Jackson. From there, the Panthers cashed in as Kyle Allen found Christian McCaffrey for a 7-yard TD on a fourth-down play.
Before the half ended, the Panthers put together another scoring drive with Allen finding Curtis Samuel for a 12-yard touchdown pass and a three-score lead at 17-0.
The Titans missed two field goals in the first half and were plagued by penalties and questionable play-calling. Derrick Henry had just two carries for four yards in the first half.
In the third quarter, the Titans took the second half kickoff and finally decided to utilize Henry, who carried the ball almost exclusively on the march, and scored from eight yards out to pull Tennessee within 17-7.
But the momentum change wouldn’t last, as the Panthers kept the ensuing drive alive with a fake punt for a first down inside their own 40-yard line. That play would help propel Carolina to another TD as McCaffrey scored on a 1-yard run.
The Titans managed to score early in the fourth quarter when Tannehill and Henry hooked up on a 23-yard screen pass for a score that cut the lead back to 24-14.
However, Carolina maintained the upper hand when McCaffrey answered with a 58-yard touchdown gallop right up the middle that made the score 30-14. The extra point was blocked.
Tennessee managed a consolation touchdown with 2:49 to play in the game as Tannehill scrambled in for a 10-yard score. A two-point try was no good.
The Titans got the football back after holding the Panthers following an unsuccessful onside kick. But Succop hit the right upright from 44 yards, and Carolina ran out the clock.
Tannehill was 27 of 39 for 331 yards, but he had two interceptions to just one TD pass.
Henry finished with 63 yards on 13 carries, much of that coming in the third quarter.
The Titans return home next week with a tough challenge on their hands as the Kansas City Chiefs come calling. Early indications are that Patrick Mahomes may be ready to return to lineup at quarterback for Kansas City.
The Titans lost cornerback Malcolm Butler to a wrist injury late in the first half. Butler was injured while covering Curtis Samuels, who caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Allen on the play.