Hasselbeck hurt, Titans' rally comes up short against Falcons

Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 6:30pm
Staff reports

Matt Hasselbeck not only failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season, the veteran quarterback failed to finish the game.

Rookie Jake Locker came on with 2:57 to play in the third quarter after Hasselbeck sustained an injury to his right (throwing) arm. Locker threw his first career touchdown pass on his third snap and nearly rallied the Tennessee Titans from a 20-point deficit.

The eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft ultimately threw two touchdown passes, but Tennessee lost 23-17 to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday and fell two full games behind the Houston Texans, who had a bye, in the AFC South.

The Titans (5-5) gave up a touchdown fewer than five minutes after the opening kickoff and never seriously challenged the Falcons (6-4) until the closing minutes. A season-high 10 penalties penalties, which cost 86 yards, and — once again — an unproductive running game made any consistent production on either offense or defense difficult to generate.

"We just missed too many opportunities," wide reciever Nate Washington said. "To tell the truth, too many penalties, too many missed opportunities and assignments, and if we want to be a great team we can’t play this type of football. We expect better from ourselves."

Tennessee had just 15 yards of total offense in the second half before Locker entered. His first drive consisted of three plays — an incomplete pass, an eight-yard completion to tight end Jared Cook and then a 40-yard touchdown pass to Washington.

He later connected with Cook for a 22-yard gain on fourth-and-17, which led to his second touchdown pass — a four-yard completion to Washington. That got the Titans within six, 23-17, with 3:06 remaining.

"He came in and made some nice throws under pressure and bought us some time," coach Mike Munchak said."He did exactly what we thought he was capable of doing. He did exactly what a second team quarterback should do. It was his opportunity. He brought us back in the game."

The Falcons, who got 316 yards passing and a touchdown from Matt Ryan and 100 yards rushing and another touchdown from Michael Turner, successfully ran off the remaining time.

Washington had just two touchdown receptions through the first nine games. He finished with a career-high nine catches and 115 yards (two short of his career-high).

Locker completed nine of 19 passes for 140 yards and the two touchdowns.

Hasselbeck was 13-for-25 for 124 yards with one interception. His streak of nine straight games from the start of the season with at least one touchdown pass was the longest of his career.

He was injured as he attempted to deliver a pass, stayed in the game for one more play and then watched the remainder of the contest with a bag of ice on his right forearm.

"I am not in a ton of pain, but I just hurt my elbow and wasn’t able to throw," Hasselbeck said. "It’s unfortunate and I feel bad about it. I think we are going to take some pictures tomorrow and see what we can find out. I was happy for the team. They battled back. [Locker] came in and played great. He made some plays."

Neither quarterback had the benefit of a productive running game. Chris Johnson rushed for 13 yards on 12 carries and the Titans rushed for 41 (their second-lowest total of the season) as a team.

“We are 5-5 and it just shows that we are really inconsistent right now," Johnson said. "If we want to make a run for the playoffs and be a good team in December, then we are going to have to start being consistent. We can’t have a good week this Sunday and then a bad week next.

"We have to play like we really want to be in the playoffs.”

5 Comments on this post:

By: serr8d on 11/21/11 at 7:49

The Titans have a major problem: Chris Johnson. We gave this clown way too much money. He had one good season; he demanded far too much for his position, and he is unable to deliver.

One pundit's analysis...

Running back Chris Johnson turned in another stinker of a game for the Titans at Atlanta, with 12 carries for 13 yards, and the Falcons earned a 23-17 win. The loss drops the Titans to 5-5, two games behind the Texans.

Let’s not mince words here: Johnson is horrible. We’re now 10 games into the season, and we’ve seen enough to say that it’s not just that Johnson is off to a slow start because of the lockout and his contract holdout. Johnson entered today’s game averaging 3.4 yards a carry, which ranked him dead last among the 34 NFL players with at least 80 rushing attempts this season. Now his average is down to 3.2 yards a carry.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/11/20/another-terrible-game-for-chris-johnson-hurts-titans-playoff-chances/

If anything good comes of the Titans' illogical and damaging contract with Johnson, it'll be as a warning to other teams not to jump to pay a 'star' more than he's worth. We've seen at least two such 'payment failures' this season: Johnson, and the 0-10 Indianapolis Colts, paying Peyton Manning ungodly amounts to sit out the year.

By: terry r payne on 11/21/11 at 2:19

I sure wish Hasselbeck would come up short against me...that sounds yummy.

By: jwk6179 on 11/21/11 at 2:27

And just last week, after Chris Johnson had his best game of the season, members of the Nashville Sports Media (The Zone, 102.5 The Game, Mike Keith, Tennessean, et al) were all over the place yelling "He's (Chris Johnson) Back, He's Back!!!". I believe last weeks performance by Chris Johnson was A FLUKE and the what the Titans got on Sunday was the REAL CHRIS JOHNSON!!!!

By: joe41 on 11/21/11 at 3:11

Hey guys, it is the Oline that shares a big part of the Chris Johnson story. Maybe they are not motivated but they sure are laying eggs. I saw Jake Scott continually get beat by the Atlanta defensive front. And we have Hall of Fame coaches coaching them. I sure don't know what is wrong but they are stinking this year in the run blocking department. Chris isn't helping them. Has he been timed in the 40 this year?
Joe

By: tn.native on 11/21/11 at 8:24

In the case with CJ...we haven't got what we paid for and it appears that we won't.
Defenses have had time to to make an adjustment and he just has no game going on. So far it's been disappointing and if he stays flat the rest of the year it would seem like time to move on. On the other hand, a fine showing by Locker in the fourth quarter. If he is to become the quarterback for this team he should be eased into it now that the "newness" of the team wears off. Any team can lose a QB in any game as injuries are to be expected but I think Munch just wants to have some depth at all positions and continue to grow this team through the rest of the season. If he can get .500 for his first season as head coach he will grow a lot. They have to be working on consistency, especially with too many penalties.