Ending a real downer as Titans lose to Denver 26-20

Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 7:25pm

Marc Mariani had one thought on his mind: “High point.”

As a wide receiver, he’s trained to go for a pass that’s in the air at the highest point possible.

This was a kickoff, one that had bounced off the LP Field turf and was, therefore, up for grabs. The first rule for any return man in that situation is to field the ball, and having failed to do so initially, the Tennessee Titans’ rookie resorted to the receiver’s rule.

His leap was disrupted when Denver’s David Bruton slammed into him, and the ball came down again where it eventually was recovered by the Broncos’ Cassius Vaughn.

Thus, the moment was reduced to the final low point on a day filled with emotional turns as the Titans fell 26-20 before a sellout crowd of 69,143.

“I wasn’t going to let it come down,” Mariani said. “I went up in the air to try to get it. … I should have made the play.

“Just a helpless feeling watching that ball roll away.”

The muff led to Denver’s fourth field goal of the day – this one with 28 seconds to go – and effectively cost the Titans any chance to rally in a contest they led twice in the second half, the first time after Mariani’s own personal high point, a 98-yard kickoff return that made it 17-13 with 10:19 to play in the third quarter.

Tennessee’s defense recorded a season-high six sacks, but also committed the majority of the 10 penalties assessed to the team as a whole. A pass interference call against safety Chris Hope gave the Broncos’ possession at the 1-yard line and set up the game-winning score – Correll Buckhalter’s 6-yard reception with 1:33 remaining.

The offense racked up 242 yards in the first half, capped by a 26-yard drive that set up a game-tying field goal in the final 23 seconds. That same bunch managed just 46 total yards and three first downs throughout the whole of the second half.

“The worst way to lose in sports is in the end,” defensive end Dave Ball said. “An even worse way to lose is in the end after we beat ourselves. … Once we get all that stuff ironed out, the sky’s the limit.”

One quarter of the way through this season it’s difficult to tell whether or not things actually are looking up for the Titans.

This defeat left them 2-2 and tied with Indianapolis and Jacksonville, one game behind first-place Houston in what suddenly looks like one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL.

Their featured player, running back Chris Johnson, again failed to deliver a big play and was held to 53 yards on 19 attempts. That was paramount to the fact that the defense was on the field for 20:56 of the second the second half.

“You know, we threw the ball well,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “You get a kickoff return for a touchdown, which is great, but your defense goes right back on the field. So we just didn’t get the (offensive) snaps.”

Of course, the same is true when you get a muffed kickoff and the other team recovers.

By the time the defense got off the field following that one, the deficit was six points, the Titans were out of timeouts. Mariani returned the ball to the 23, and from there quarterback Vince Young threw three desperate passes, none of which were completed or drew a penalty.

“We had three or four plays that changed the whole game,” Mariani said. “That’s the NFL. … We were on a lot of highs (Sunday). At the end of the day we’re on lows.”

6 Comments on this post:

By: 1963mfb on 10/3/10 at 8:30

I know this is not the topic but i noticed when Vince Young has a bad game or just make a few mistakes its highlighted and almost always considered the reason for the teams loss and or problems the titans fans beat vince down. but when the receivers drop passes or the penalties kick in or just others making mistakes which happens much more often the titans fan are not so mean to these players at all why cant Vince get the same respect . Vince could start for over half the teams in the nfl name10 starting qb's in the league with a better win loss record than vince over 43 games 28 W 'sand 15 L's please

By: TITAN1 on 10/4/10 at 5:09

1963mfb, I think you should say SOME Titans fans. The ones who want to hear themselves on the radio are in a very small minority. I have been a fan of this team since it was determined they were moving here. As long as they are doing their best I am happy. Doing their best will not always translate to a victory.

By: richgoose on 10/4/10 at 5:42

Thank you TITAN1 for your christian views. You can rest assured that Bud Adams wishes that every single Titan fan had your attitude. In fact I bet Barack Hussein Obama wishes every voter had your attitude.

By: joe41 on 10/4/10 at 7:16

We had many opportunities to salt this game away. We are just not making the necessary adjustments on offense to keep the opponent guessing in the second half of these games. I give a lot of that to our offensive coordinator. I thought Vince had a good day and was throwing the ball well. But look at the plays they were calling and you can see we never had a chance. Just like the Pittsburgh game. Heimerdinger needs to shore his playcalling up or we are in for a long season. With Indy at two losses, we still have a good shot.

By: chillyvillain on 10/4/10 at 8:56

Mariani shouldn't shoulder much, if any, of the blame for this loss. If he hadn't run back the kickoff for a TD we would've been totally out of the game anyway. I'm really getting tired of all the Vince Young apologists. The guy is of below-average intelligence, and I don't think he will ever have a grasp of the complexities of the pro QB role. The defensive coordinators have him figured out, they pretty much have Chris Johnson figured out this year, and our receivers couldn't hang onto a pass even if VY could throw one accurately with that weird hitch delivery. We lost the game on the next-to-last series because we couldn't even get a single first down. The offensive coordinator's play calling is severely limited by the poor talent and execution of our offense, starting with Vince Young.

ps Does anyone else remember the Vince Young interview right after Texas beat USC for the national championship? One word: unintelligible.

By: richgoose on 10/4/10 at 11:56

Vince is a legend in the Houston ghetto! They never ask him for a speech and if he gives one then there is not a person there that is interested in any grammatical error he makes. In fact they do not know he made one.