Maybe it is a good thing that the Titans are headed out of the country for their next game, because the Baltimore Ravens ran them out of their home stadium on Sunday with 21-0 win that was embarrassing on a number of levels for Tennessee.
The Titans allowed 11 quarterback sacks – one shy of tying the NFL record – and were shut out for the first time in the 20-year history of Nissan Stadium.
Bottom line, the Baltimore Ravens still rule the roost in Nashville.
First visiting team to win in Nashville: The Ravens.
First team to knock a No. 1-seeded Titans team out of the playoffs: The Ravens.
Second team to knock a No. 1-seeded Titans team out of the playoffs: Again, the Ravens.
So, while many of the current Titans were in elementary and middle school when most of this ugly history with Baltimore began, they got a history lesson Sunday, courtesy of a Ravens team that dominated from start to finish. Wherever you want to look in this one, there was Ravens' dominance and the Titans' futility.
“We got whooped. That's all it comes down to,” said receiver Corey Davis, who had just one catch Sunday and was targeted only four times. The Ravens credited defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale with putting together a game plan that suffocated the Titans on Sunday.
“That was amazing to be a part of,” safety Eric Weddle said. “We were just a step ahead of them with what they were doing.”
At 3-3, the Titans are still in a tie for first in the mediocre AFC South, thanks to Jacksonville suffering a similar beatdown courtesy of Dallas. But all is not well for the Titans in any aspect of the game right now.
The offense has now gone eight straight quarters without a touchdown, bettering an early streak of seven quarters without a TD earlier this season.
“As an offense, we've got to look in the mirror, dig down deep, take the tough coaching – no soft (expletive) and get back to work,” running back Dion Lewis said. The Ravens' dominance was evident at the outset as Baltimore converted five straight third-down conversions on its initial drive, marching 94 yards on 17 plays and chewing 9:09 off the first quarter clock for a 7-0 lead. Joe Flacco, who was not sacked all game by the Titans, found Michael Crabtree for a 4-yard touchdown. The Ravens scored again in the second quarter, this time on Alex Collins' 13-yard run to go up 14-0.
“Just a historic defensive performance,” Harbaugh said. “I thought our offense played very well to get the lead. To get a 14-point lead, it changes the dynamic quite a bit.”
But it was the Titans inability to put together any sort of threat that was the story of the game. Not only did Mariota get dumped a team-record 11 times, the Titans managed just 106 yards of total offense, converted just 1 of 10 third-down tries.
“We played awful, and we've got to fix that and we've got to turn around and go to London and fix everything,” said center Ben Jones, referring to next week's game in London against the Chargers. “We put ourselves in bad situations. We put ourselves in third-and-long, I felt like, the whole game. And when you're doing that, they have a great secondary and a great defensive line, and that's what they thrive on when you're in third-and-long.”
On the flip side, the Ravens moved the ball at will, converting on 12 of 17 third-down tries and holding the football for 37:34 in the game. Flacco was not sacked at all in the game. About the lone highlight for the Titans was a second quarter interception by Kevin Byard that killed one potential Ravens scoring drive. When it was over, the Titans were very self-critical – and for good reason.
“We have to take this week with some type of urgency. At the end of the day, I don't feel like we're playing with enough urgency right now,” Byard said. “Even though we're not executing right now, I don't feel like we're playing with enough urgency. This entire team, we have to look at every game like it's the Super Bowl, and we have to play like that.”