The Titans started off the 2022-23 season with a loss after falling to the New York Giants 21-20 on Sunday (Sept. 11) despite having a 13-0 lead at halftime.
Kicker Randy Bullock, who hit two field goals in the first half, went wide left on what would’ve been a 47 yard, game-winning kick in the final seconds.
“Any time you lose, it’s a gut punch. We put a lot into it and started off how we wanted to,” said head coach Mike Vrabel in a postgame press conference. “We have to give [the Giants] a lot of credit. We went flat and then we weren’t able to get anything going in the second half.”
Tennessee was only able to score once in the second half to retake the lead at 20-13 but failed to capitalize on any defensive success, which included an Amari Hooker interception with 8:50 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Their offense failed to capitalize on the return of a healthy Derrick Henry and had many disappointing drives after scoring a touchdown on their opening drive. Henry had 21 carries but only rushed for 82 yards. The team’s offensive linemen woes were on full display on Sunday with a handful of holding calls that called back a few first down opportunities for Henry.
The Titans defense was able to suffocate Giants quarterback Daniel Jones throughout the game, but wasn’t able to stop Saquon Barkley who had 18 carries for 164 yards, a touchdown and averaged 9.1 yards per carry. The Giants took the lead after scoring a touchdown and converting a two-point conversion with just over a minute left.
“They hit some big plays,” Vrabel continued. “We weren’t able to convert in the red zone and defensively we couldn’t stop the run, which was the number one key to the game. That’s why you lose, not because you miss a field goal at the end of the game. It’s a lot of things up to that.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a solid performance, throwing two touchdown passes for 266 yards and averaging 8.1 yards per pass. However, many of their drives were riddled with dropped and overthrown passes which could’ve led to more first downs.
Rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks had three catches for 55 yards, and fellow first year Kyle Philips had six catches fro 66 yards, showing he could be an offensive leader this season.
“We left some opportunities out there, and we didn’t make some plays that were there. You have to play a full game,” Tannehill noted postgame. “We didn’t finish the way we wanted to. We didn’t move the ball effectively enough throughout the game.”
Overall, the Titans offense just fell flat outside of two drives. They only converted three times on third down and only picked up two rushing first downs. Tennessee also picked up four first down penalties which stifled any momentum they had.
The Titans schedule doesn’t get any easier from here as they will head to Buffalo on Sept. 19 to play the Bills before welcoming the Las Vegas Raiders to Nissan Stadium on Sept. 25. They start October in Indianapolis to face division rival the Colts.
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