Titans blow 10-point lead in 24-17 loss to Bengals
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans were disappointed that they were unable to finish what they started.
The Titans had 233 yards and had a 10-point lead in the first half before giving up 17 second-half points and losing 24-17 Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals for their third defeat in four games.
"We didn't overcome anything in the second half," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "We had opportunities. They were there for us. On offense, we didn't make anything happen in the second half."
The Titans managed 8 yards of offense in the third quarter and finished with 95 in the second half, 30 of those coming on the final play of the game before Lavelle Hawkins was tackled at the Cincinnati 32.
"That is kind of the way the whole second half went," Munchak said.
The Titans (4-4) managed to get production from three-time Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson. He had 55 yards on nine carries in the first half.
"We had some pretty good runs, pretty good execution in the first half and then (in the) second half, we just came out and nobody played really too good," Johnson said. "They came out ready to play and they made plays, and we didn't."
The Titans struggled with seven penalties for 100 yards.
In the fourth quarter, the Titans had the ball for only 4 minutes, 38 seconds. Tennessee's best chance ended on the first play when tight end Jared Cook caught an 8-yard pass and was stripped by Bengals cornerback Nate Clements.
Cincinnati kicked a field goal to help seal the victory.
Rookie Andy Dalton threw for three touchdowns and 217 yards in rallying the Bengals (6-2) to their fifth straight victory.
The Bengals last won five in a row in 1988 when they took the AFC championship and went to their second Super Bowl. They also improved to 4-1 on the road with the rookie quarterback throwing TD passes to three different receivers.
"Our quarterback has done a nice job," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "It was loud out there, louder than we expected. I think he's done a nice job of handling that. He doesn't get unnerved, he just keeps coming back and just playing."
Cincinnati came in with the fourth-stingiest defense in the NFL, and the Bengals helped shut down the Titans in the second half. Carlos Dunlap had two sacks.
Now the Bengals head into the toughest part of their schedule two wins ahead of their total of last season. Cincinnati faces the Steelers twice and the Ravens once in its next four games.
"We're at where we want to be now, and that's in the thick of things in our division," said Bengals rookie receiver A.J. Green, who caught seven passes for 83 yards.
"We've got some division games coming up that are going to be tough, but I feel like this team right here is going to fight and compete in every game."
They took over after halftime. Dalton took advantage of a defensive pass interference play on Jason McCourty to set up his second TD pass, a 15-yarder to Jerome Simpson.
The rookie QB from Texas Christian then drove the Bengals 75 yards using up 6 minutes, 55 seconds before finding Andre Caldwell for a 5-yard TD with 10:52 left and a 21-17 lead that Cincinnati never lost.
"We're doing whatever we have to do to win the game, and that's the biggest thing for the season," Dalton said.
Johnson ran pretty well at times and finished with 64 yards rushing and 46 yards receiving. But the Titans wasted their best field position at the Cincinnati 49 on the opening possession of the third quarter.
In a sign of how much they would struggle, they wound up going backward with a penalty and went three-and-out.
"That kind of for some reason set the tone the rest of the day for the offense," Munchak said.