AFC South: Nate Clements
November, 6, 2011
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on the Tennessee Titans’ 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at LP Field:
What it means: The Titans fell to 4-4, which feels about right for their talent and performance but really shows off their failures since a 3-1 start. Tennessee now trails Houston in the AFC South by two games plus a head-to-head loss. The Titans had a 17-7 halftime lead after a solid first half but really faltered from there. Their final good chance to win ended when TE Jared Cook was stripped by cornerback Nate Clements, who recovered it.
What I didn’t like: The passing game is just too out of sync. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to Matt Hasselbeck when there appears to be timing, route depth or route break-off issues. Coach Mike Munchak said more often than not his quarterback is right when things go wrong. But there are too many plays where targets turn back after incompletions and seem surprised about where a throw went.
What I also didn’t like: They allowed a rookie quarterback (Andy Dalton) and a rookie receiver (A.J. Green) to scald them in the second half. On the go-ahead touchdown drive, they connected on a 23-yard pass on a first-and-20 and a 20-yard pass on a third-and-18.
Fooled us in the first half: Tennessee did some things better in the first 30 minutes. Chris Johnson had 55 rushing yards on nine first-half carries. The Titans threw to Cook more often (but look what it ultimately got them). Cortland Finnegan spearheaded a fine defensive first half, getting his hands on a couple of balls and threatening as a blitzer.
What’s next: The Titans head to Carolina to face another rookie quarterback, the Panthers' Cam Newton.