The Tennessee Titans’ defense has been one the best in the league the last two months. On the flip side, their offense has been one of the most inconsistent in the league over that span.
Both worlds collided again today in Arizona, and the Titans came away with a frustrating 12-7 loss to the Cardinals.
Tennessee won six of their last seven games heading into today’s contest, thanks in large part to a defensive unit that managed to overcome the increasingly anemic play of their offense.
The defense held up their end of the bargain again today, turning in one of their best performances of the season. But it was wasted by an offense that now seems hell-bent on sabotaging the team’s playoff chances.
When you hold an offense to four field goals, less than 265 total yards, and sack their quarterback eight times, you expect that effort to be enough to win if you have playoff aspirations.
But Tennessee’s defensive effort was undone by two second half interceptions by Marcus Mariota, miscommunication on pass routs (that led to one of the picks), a run game that never got going, and a questionable fake punt deep inside their own territory that failed to gain a first down.
DeMarco Murray’s 54 yard run was called back for holding in the first quarter. The gain would have led to a first down inside the red zone.
The Cardinals must have felt bad for Mariota and the offense, because they did their part in keeping the Titans in the game with their own red zone woes and missed chip shot field goal in the second half.
But none of the help was enough.
At 8-5, with three games left to play, the defense must now see it for what it is.
The offense may not “fix” itself in time, so they need to make up their mind to drag the offense over the finish line and into the playoffs.
Winning six of their last eight has afforded the Titans the luxury of controlling their own destiny. If they win their last three games they will be AFC South champions.
At worst the Titans will need to win at least two of their last three to grab a Wild Card spot, and if the defense does not want a frustrating season of wasted production and summer of asking what could have been then they need to take matters in their own hands.
That means an uptick in turnovers to go along with their recent barrage of qb sacks, and a score or two of their own if need be.
We’ve seen Jacksonville’s defense carry their offense earlier in the season, as well as other examples from the past. So we know it can be done.
As unfair as it sounds, the defense must raise their game to another level. Time is running out…which means there’s no more time to wait on the offense.