Titans total 94 yards of offense, their lowest in 49 years, in loss to Browns
CLEVELAND (AP) — Gifted great field position when their defense forced a turnover, the Tennessee Titans moved the ball — backwards.
Incredibly, that was when they scored their only points in a 27-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Derrick Henry was held to 20 yards rushing, quarterback Ryan Tannehill got sacked five times and harassed many more and the Titans were held to 94 yards, their lowest output since they pulled up stakes in Houston and relocated to Tennessee in 1997.
It was the franchise’s worst offensive performance in 49 years — since Nov. 24, 1974, when the Oilers lost to the Dallas Cowboys.
“They were much much better than we were,” said Titans coach Mike Vrabel. “Coaching, playing, the whole bit.”
Unable to contain Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett, who finished with 3 1/2 sacks and came close to getting several more, the Titans (1-2) were overwhelmed and overmatched.
“We can’t go in the corner and cry about it,” said Henry, who had minus-7 yards at halftime. “We have to get better. You never want to lose like that. They were the better team in all three phases. I’m not happy. Everyone on the offense is not happy. We’ve just got to find a way.
“We have a lot of room to grow from a lot of adversity early.”
A two-time rushing champion, Henry has 163 yards on 51 carries — a 3.2-yard average — through three games this season.
There has been a common denominator in Tennessee’s two losses — bad offense. Tannehill had three interceptions in Week 1 against New Orleans. Against the Browns, he didn’t make any big throws and finished 13 of 25 for 104 yards.
This felt like more than a setback for Tannehill, who led his team to a win last week over the Los Angeles Chargers. The veteran QB is in the final season of a four-year, $118 million contract.
“It’s frustrating, obviously,” he said. “Haven’t been a part of a whole lot of games here that ended like that. Not the way we wanted to go out and play on any side of the ball. We gotta be better.”
A strange sequence in the first quarter summed up Tennessee’s troubling day.
After Titans cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting stripped Elijah Moore and recovered a fumble at the Browns’ 17, the Titans became the first team in three games this season to run a play inside the red zone (20-yard line) against Cleveland.
It was a forgettable trip.
On first down, Garrett, who spent the day obliterating Titans left tackle Andre Dillard, grabbed Henry behind the line for a 3-yard loss. On second down, it was Garrett again, this time beating Dillard and tipping the ball away from Tannehill as he tried to throw.
Henry pounced on the fumble on the final play of the first quarter.
Switching ends of the field didn’t help the Titans as Tannehill’s short pass to tight end Chig Okonkwo on third down turned into a 2-yard loss when it got blown up by Browns cornerback Denzel Ward.
Three plays, minus-9 yards. Nick Folk converted a 44-yard field goal for Tennessee’s lone score.
The Titans squandered another scoring chance late in the first half after moving the ball to Cleveland’s 11 with 22 seconds left. After two pass plays netted nothing, Garrett burst past Dillard on third down and dropped Tannehill.
Out of timeouts, the Titans couldn’t get their field-goal unit on the field and watched helplessly as the final seconds ticked off.
“We were in a situation where the ball had to be in the end zone or out of bounds,” Tannehill said. “It wasn’t the play that we had called, but he got there pretty fast and he made the play.”
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