Titans prove to be all too human in loss to Patriots

Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 6:13pm

Assuming that to err is, in fact, human then the Tennessee Titans’ 34-13 season-opening loss Sunday was a study in humanity.

The number of errors was not overwhelming, but against a team like the New England Patriots, who played in last season’s Super Bowl, and a quarterback the caliber of Tom Brady the impact of every misstep was magnified.

“You cannot make mistakes and you cannot blow opportunities,” coach Mike Munchak said. “If you’re down there you have to score points and you can’t have a turnover that gives them a touchdown, things like that that will come back to haunt you in a game.

“They’re going to make their share of plays, which we knew, we just couldn’t help them. Unfortunately, along the way we helped them.”

Front and center in this exploration of human frailty, of course, was Titans quarterback Jake Locker.

In his first career start he completed more than two-thirds of his pass attempts and was Tennessee’s leading rusher. In mind and body, though, he was decidedly fallible as evidenced by the fact that he committed the game’s only two turnovers — one fumble and one interception — and spent final 14-plus minutes on the sideline with an injury.

Locker’s left (non-throwing) shoulder was at least bruised and possibly worse when he tackled Patriots safety Patrick Chung after a 49-yard return of a recovered fumble.

“Those [turnovers] were big,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “We had a couple other ones we could have had [but] we didn’t hang on to the ball or whatever.”

Locker, the 2011 first-round draft pick, quickly owned up to the giveaways, the second of which New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower returned six yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 Patriots’ lead in the second quarter. He called the interception “a bad decision” and said of the fumble, "that’s not a hit where the ball should be able to come out.”

He was completely unapologetic, however, about having put himself at risk with the decision to make the tackle, which he did effectively and emphatically against the 5-foot-11, 210-pound veteran Chung. Munchak said the better choice would have been for Locker not to make that play.

“Nobody told me that — I thought it was football,” Locker said. “… I know that I play on offense but I’m not going to let a guy run into the end zone.”

Yet, there’s the rub. Locker should not have been faced with the choice in the first place.

Officials allowed play to continue after Locker’s pass down the middle was ruled a 23-yard completion to Nate Washington and a fumble. The play was overturned when video review determined that Washington never had control of the ball, which meant it should have been blown dead long before Chung got in front of Locker, one of three notable players — Washington and linebacker Colin McCarthy were the others — who were knocked out by injury.

It was not the only time the Titans was disappointed with the efforts of the officiating crew, replacements forced into regular-season duty by the NFL’s continued lockout of regular officials, which has been in place since the start of training camp.

Each team ultimately was assessed three penalties each. The last call against the Titans negated a 21-yard Locker run on third-and-10 from the 10 and forced them into third-and-15. They failed to convert the second time, punted from their own end zone and New England scored a touchdown six plays later.

Tennessee’s only two trips to the red zone ended with Rob Bironas field goals, the first after wide receiver Damian Williams thought he was interfered with on a pass to the end zone and the second after tight end Jared Cook thought he was held as he tried to get open beyond the goal line.

“[The Patriots] didn’t make many mistakes,” Munchak said. “They didn’t turn the ball over. They didn’t do some of the things we did, have crucial penalties that hurt them like we did.”

New England, on the other hand, was perfect both times it drove beyond the 20.

Rob Gronkowski’s 2-yard touchdown catch made it 21-3 with two minutes to play in the first half, and Stevan Ridley’s 1-yard run pushed the margin back to 18 points (28-10) with just over a minute to play in the third quarter.

“You can’t turn the ball over and you have to get touchdowns,” Washington said. “Of course, against a team like [New England] you have to make sure you are putting up points. … This is not what we worked for all training camp. We were looking for a little better performance than we gave [Sunday].”

18 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 9/9/12 at 4:24

I sold my share of a box five years ago. It took me awhile as I was enamored with NFL football Now I spend the winter in Florida and watch NFL on TV. A Bud Adams franchise is a franchise that bleeds mediocrity.

I wonder how much longer they can continue to fill the stadium.

By: 4gold on 9/10/12 at 7:38

Pathetic showing. Both lines got manhandled. Surprise surprise since they kept most of last years inept O line in tact. So sick of hearing one guy missed his block on each play. They got manhandled across the board and if they are just missing assignments it is Bruce Matthews fault. Great players are not neccesarily good teachers. The real surprise was the D line that had looked decent in preseason. Linebackers are mediocre at best. Without Mc Carthy they are sub par. Looking at an 0-4 team to start the season. How much fun is this?

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: yucchhii on 9/10/12 at 8:06

Putting teams like The NE Pats and the Titans together is like putting Andre the Giant in the ring with a midget. I heard the police had the pats locker room blocked off with arrest warrents...for SLAUGHTERING the Titans. The last time the Titans played againts the pats was at Foxboro, Mass and it was a snow/rain storm going on. 58-0 pats. I understand what the titans were going through, it was COLD out and snowy.

By: TITAN1 on 9/10/12 at 8:38

Armchair quarterbacks = useless.

By: MrT on 9/10/12 at 8:47

Starting Locker was the right choice. He has to grow into his role as leader of the team. Unfortunately, New England showed up at the coronation party. I hope he doesn't get discourage. It could have been worse. Maybe that was a good kick in the pants for him and the entire team. Welcome to the NFL!!

Chris Johnson should have his contract re-negotiated. Pay him $0 plus $10k for every yard he runs (that's $20 million for a 2,000 yard season). Bet he runs more then 4 yards per game! Not to put all the blame on CJ. The o-line was looking pretty pitiful. Did you see the NE o-line...Brady was in an iron bubble and the run game had some serious holes to play with. Take notes! I think maybe some heads need to role on offense.

On defense, I realize you were playing the NE Patriots but what the heck? Is it poor coaching, lack of talent? I just don't get it. With the exception of Brady's bloody nose, the Pats looked like they were having fun.

Still holding out hope for the Titans. Yes, it's easy to criticize when I'm sitting on my couch but plenty of teams go from bad to good. It would be nice to see our Titans follow that path! Go team!!!

By: jwk6179 on 9/10/12 at 8:49

I wonder how much longer they can continue to fill the stadium.

I watched the game on TV from my living room and there seem to be quite a few empty blue seats in the lower section and a lot of empty red seat on the club level sections. The game may have been SOLD OUT, but you couldn't tell that by television. Titan Fans are suppose to be the so-called "Best Fans in the NFL"!!!

By: jwk6179 on 9/10/12 at 8:58

Last week, the Tennessean ran a story about how bad the Patriots O-line is and how Derrick Morgan, Kameron Wimbley and the rest of the Titans D-line were going to have a field day against Tom Brady. Other than Brady's broken nose, the Titans didn't get close to Brady the rest of the day. The O-line for the Patriots also opened up holes for a running back for over 100 yards, almost half his total from last season. Just because the Pats gave up several sacks in the Pre-season doesn't mean that will happen in the REGULAR SEASON.

By: bfra on 9/10/12 at 10:16

By: TITAN1 on 9/10/12 at 9:38

Armchair quarterbacks = useless.
That's better than being a suckup to ever mistake & bad play the Titans make! You don't seem to much about football.

By: TITAN1 on 9/10/12 at 10:37

barf, you never will get it, You support your team win or lose. When you think you are smarter than the owners, draft better than the GM, coach better than the coaching staff, or play better than the players, then you are a moron.

By: bfra on 9/10/12 at 3:52

Titan1 - Golly! From your comments & downgrading anyone that has a comment other that what YOU think, YOU sound like YOU think YOU are smarter that all those you listed.

By: TITAN1 on 9/10/12 at 4:22

barf, what I said makes a lot of sense, what you just said was childish, but then I would expect no less from you. You are just another joy sucker who gets his thrills by trying to suck the joy out of what others enjoy. It is your purpose in life..

By: bfra on 9/10/12 at 4:52

Titan1 - You sound like the weakling in school, not big enough for anything but a water boy (maybe) and now likes to sound lilk a JOCK on the internet. Get a Life!

By: bfra on 9/10/12 at 4:54

Make that "like a JOCK" , however you could leave one l off and make that "ilk", that would fit you, too.

By: TITAN1 on 9/10/12 at 5:37

Sonny, you are the one who is always talking trash on here. Then you try to turn the tables on who ever comes back at you. How dare anyone see you for what you are! BTW sonny, I have a great life, Being positive and happy will do that. You should try it sometimes instead of being a scrooge 24/7.

By: 4gold on 9/11/12 at 7:24

Support your Team but you have to be realistic too. Titan1 sounds like a UK basketball fan that thinks they are running a college program.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: TITAN1 on 9/11/12 at 8:48

4gold, there is constructive criticism mixed in with praise, then there are the negative people who only criticize, then there are the trolls and joy suckers.

By: ancienthighway on 9/11/12 at 9:49

Listen to Titan1 people! The players deserve a trophy for showing up and participating in the game, just like the Pee Wees get. /sarcasm off
Really, you don't praise poor performance. For the wages these players receive, if they can't do their job, they deserve to be ridiculed, chastised, and shamed. Not that it matters, because they are laughing at the fans everytime they spend their easily earned money.

By: TITAN1 on 9/12/12 at 8:41

ancienthighway, you will never be happy with that outlook. Enjoy misery, but I won't be in your company. Complainers and whiners don't get anywhere.