Buck Reising, host of Technically Foul and The Final Drive recaps the Tennessee Titans Week 16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With one game remaining in the 2017 NFL Regular Season, the Tennessee Titans (8-7) did themselves no favors Sunday in their pursuit of a postseason berth with a 27-23 loss at Nissan Stadium against the visiting Los Angeles Rams (11-4).
More-than-questionable officiating contributed to Tennessee’s struggles but an inability to convert red zone opportunities, missed chances for points and an opponent that came into the contest tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the highest scoring offense in professional football all equated to an unsatisfactory Christmas Eve in Nashville.
Los Angeles opened the scoring after a costly interception by Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota put the Rams in solid position at their own 47 yard line. It took a mere four plays for Jared Goff to find MVP candidate Todd Gurley for a three-yard touchdown pass and a 6-0 lead.
Kicker Sam Ficken, filling in for Greg Zuerlein, missed the extra point to keep Tennessee in range.
Tennessee responded with a 14-play, 62-yard drive that bled 7:41 off the clock. Mariota brought the offense to the Los Angeles one-yard line and was incomplete on third down but Rams pass rusher Robert Quinn was called for defensive holding to give the Titans four more opportunities at the end zone.
Instead, tight end Luke Stocker was flagged for a false start followed by a sack of Mariota, a short completion to rookie Corey Davis and an incompletion on third down. Tennessee was forced to settle for a 25-yard Ryan Succop field goal on fourth-and-seven and a margin of 6-3. Mariota finished the day completing 22-0f-39 passes for 275 yards and the pick; he contributed 24 yards rushing on three carries.
“Big difference in the game,” coach Mike Mularkey said in his post-game press conference of the red-zone issues. “Definitely the difference in the game. When you’re on the one-yard line, don’t get it in the one time and then you have a false start, when you play a team that scores a lot of points, you’ve got to score a lot of points, and obviously that was the difference in the game.”
The first Titans touchdown of the game came towards the end of second half.
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) December 24, 2017
Punter Brett Kern pinned Goff and company at their own 11-yard line and allowed the defense to make a play. On first-and-ten, Goff was strip-sacked by Jurrell Casey and the fumble was recovered by linebacker Wesley Woodyard in the end zone for six points and the first Tennessee defensive touchdown since Week 17 of the 2016-17 season.
Los Angeles wasted no time in their response. Goff hit Gurley on a short screen pass that the running back took 80 yards for the touchdown, his second receiving score of the day and the lead, 13-10.
Tennessee’s next drive moved 56 yards in 11 plays to put Succop in position for his second field goal from 37 yards with :19 remaining in the half and a 13-13 tie heading into the locker room.
Ryan Succcop missed a chance for three points from 45-yards away to give his team a lead in the third quarter. It was the kicker’s seventh miss of the season. According to John Glennon, Succop had only missed a total of seven field goals in the last three years.
Goff’s third touchdown pass was the next score to be put on the board.. Receiver Sammy Watkins found space and caught a three-yard quick-hitter from his quarterback to retake control at 20-13. The result, though, brought the ire of the Titans fans in attendance after it appeared the officials missed a false start call on a Rams offensive lineman on the prior fourth-and-one conversion to set up the score.
A six-yard DeMarco Murray run brought the two teams even at 20-20 and Succop connected from 27 at the start of the fourth quarter to make it 23-20 in favor of Tennessee. The 10 unanswered points would be the last the team would score on the day.
Los Angeles promptly marched down the field, 68 yards in six plays, and Goff found a wide-open Cooper Kupp from 14-yards way for six more points and the final margin of victory: 27-23.
The Titans will host the Jacksonville Jaguars on New Year’s Eve with their playoff hopes in the balance. The Tennessee loss gifted the Jags their first AFC South title and their first divisional title in 18 years.
INJURIES: DeMarco Murray injured his knee during the game and did not return.
“We’re going to go get an MRI on him, and see the extent of it” Mularkey said of Murray. “Didn’t look good. He’s a pretty tough guy, watched him walk it off, didn’t look good.”
Receiver Corey Davis also sustained a shoulder injury and was taken to the locker room but did come back later on.