The Tennessee Titans know they only have themselves to blame for not being 2-0 with a win over a division rival to start the season.
They were still disappointed Monday after a 30-24 overtime loss in Houston, knowing they had an 8-point lead with less than 5 minutes left and couldn't finish off the win. But the Titans were also looking for the silver lining in the loss.
"You hope that's the positive we get out of it, that we went toe to toe with a very good team and we came up short," coach Mike Munchak said Monday. "That's obviously not good enough, but we can play with anybody."
And for the next several weeks, they get to prove it at home.
Tennessee plays its next three games at home starting against with the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, followed by visits from the New York Jets and Kansas City.
The Titans, Miami (2-0) and Minnesota (0-2) are the only teams in the NFL to open the season with their first two games on the road.
"To be able to come home to familiar territory where we don't have to travel the day before the game, we can be in a routine for these next three weeks without having ... to travel or go anywhere," said safety George Wilson. "I think that'll give us a lot more confidence going into this stretch."
Still, the Titans hurt Monday knowing they missed a big opportunity against the two-time defending AFC South champs in Houston. They led 24-16 with 4:59 left with the offense putting together a 99-yard drive for a touchdown and cornerback Alterraun Verner returning an interception for a touchdown.
The Titans had the chance to erase the nine penalties for 70 yards along with a safety early in the fourth quarter set up by two penalties before Chris Johnson was tackled for Tennessee's second safety in as many games. Munchak said Kendall Wright apologized immediately after a celebration penalty that cost the Titans 20 yards in field position on the kickoff after the initial touchdown.
Even after the Texans tied it up at 24, the Titans still had the ball and 1:53 left with the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history in Rob Bironas on the sideline. But Jake Locker overthrew Kenny Britt on third-and-1 with 1:12 left. Munchak said Locker needs to make that throw and that the Titans had the perfect play called against the defense Houston ran.
"We were on the sidelines thinking it had a chance to be a monster play, and we didn't make it," Munchak said.
The Titans never touched the ball again as Houston won the toss, and the defense couldn't make the needed stop. Safety Bernard Pollard called it a humbling loss.
"This is going to help us for later on in the season," Pollard said. "I've been in this position before. It's about the team coming together and saying we're going to make a stand. ... Right now we don't want to feel this way again."
The Titans also allowed Locker to be sacked five times and hit repeatedly. Left guard Andy Levitre, one of the three new starters on the interior of the offensive line, said they know they have a lot they can clean up.
"If we can fix those things, we're only going to be that much better and to know we're not that far off from winning games is encouraging to us," Levitre said.
The Titans need to take advantage of this home stand. After this stretch, they go to Seattle and then host San Francisco before their bye. They wrap up the season with four of six on the road too. With 13 new veterans and seven draft picks, Sunday will be the first home game for plenty of Titans.
"From what I hear it's going to be a great atmosphere," Levitre said.
Notes: Munchak said they are trying to decide if RB Shonn Greene needs more time to heal up his knee or if he might need surgery. Greene was hurt in the opener in Pittsburgh and did not play in Houston. ... DT Sammie Hill had an MRI exam on his right ankle but said he feels better than when he had a similar injury that kept him out four weeks earlier in his career. ... Munchak said WR Damian Williams (hamstring) should return this week.
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