Robert Johnson and Jordan Babineaux intercepted passes and the Tennessee Titans allowed their fewest points of the season. That was the good news, such as it were.
With Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback in place of the injured Jake Locker, the offense was shut out for more than three quarters and the Titans lost 30-7 to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis.
Tennessee is now 1-4 with a short week to prepare for its next contest, Thursday against Pittsburgh (7:20 p.m., LP Field, NFL Network).
Coming into the contest, the Titans had just one interception and Minnesota’s Christian Ponder was the NFL’s only starting quarterback who had not been picked off this season.
Johnson got the first (the first of his career) off a deflection on the next-to-last play of the first half, which ended with the Vikings (4-1) up 13-0. Babineaux ended Minnesota’s opening third-quarter possession with the next.
The last time the defense had more than one interception in a game was Oct. 30, 2011 against Indianapolis.
Still, that unit did little to improve its position as the NFL’s worst, in terms of points allowed. All five opponents have scored 30 points or more. Only one other team in NFL history allowed 30 or more in each of the first five games of the season.
Plus, Ponder became the fifth consecutive opposing quarterback to complete more than 70 percent of his passes as the Vikings set a season-high with 433 total yards. The 12th overall pick in 2011 (four spots after Tennessee selected Locker) finished 25-for-35 for 258 yards with a pair of second-half touchdowns, the second to tight end Kyle Rudolph just under four minutes after the Titans finally got on the board.
Hasselbeck completed six of eight passes on a 12-play, 77-yard drive capped by Jared Cook’s 10-yard touchdown reception. That nearly doubled the Titans’ total offense to that point and made it 23-7 with 10:35 to play.
The veteran quarterback finished 26-43 for 200 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his first start of the season, and Kendall Wright had a team-high nine catches for 66 yards.
Chris Johnson and the running game struggled again. The running back gained just 24 yards on 15 carries. He also lost a second-quarter fumble, one play after Tennessee successfully executed a fake punt.
Percy Harvin led Minnesota with eight receptions for 108 yards and touchdown. He added two rushes for eight yards and another touchdown.