Rapid Reaction: Saints 22, Titans 17
December, 11, 2011
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on the Titans’ 22-17 loss to the Saints at LP Field:
What it means: A largely unfavorable day. The Titans lost while one of the teams they are fighting with for position for a wild-card berth, the Jets, won. The Texans’ last-second win in Cincinnati means that Houston clinched the AFC South, but it hurt another wild-card competitor, the Bengals.
What I didn’t like: Penalties were out of control. Mike Munchak’s team is supposed to be a disciplined bunch, but special teams and the offensive line were primary culprits. Eight penalties for 54 yards consistently slowed the Titans or helped the Saints. A couple of mistakes will happen, but on this scale it’s both unacceptable and unsurvivable. The Saints were sloppy, too, but Drew Brees found his moments. And at times, like when he had all day to throw to an open Marques Colston at the goal line, a high pass wasn’t a problem as the receiver had time and space to go up and get it, then get it in the end zone for a 35-yard score. His follow up touchdown throw to Colston, from 28 yards, fell neatly between Alterraun Verner and Cortland Finnegan.
What I liked: Jake Locker put a good ball on him and banged-up receiver Nate Washington made a great play looking it in while Jabari Greer flew by a second late for a 40-yard touchdown with 5:58 left in the game that closed it to 22-17. He hit him again right near the end for another 40.
What I didn't like: The Titans' last two plays from the 5-yard line. The first was well-defended by Tracy Porter, but I question throwing to Marc Mariani no matter if Washington was out hurt. Locker ran and bought time on the last play, but has to at least try a throw instead of getting sacked.
What I want to know: What’s the trade-off between an aggressive third-and-1 call with a throw into the end zone when you then fail to convert the quarterback sneak on fourth down? We're talking the Titans' second-to-last drive there.
Injury concerns: Matt Hasselbeck suffered a left calf injury that knocked him out of the game, though he limped on and hopped off for one play when Locker took a tough shot to the ribs. Linebacker Akeem Ayers suffered a shoulder injury and No. 2 running back Javon Ringer injured his hand. Neither returned to action after getting hurt. Washington had to be tugged off the field by Chris Johnson after his late catch.
What’s next: The Titans head for Indianapolis for their second game against the winless, division-rival Colts.