It’s a windy day in Cincinnati as the 5-1 Titans take on the 1-5-1 Bengals.
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Let’s get ready for some football!
The Titans are on the field warming up now.
The Titans won the toss and defered to the second half. Cincinnati moved methodically up the field on their first drive, with a mix of short runs and quick passes. On a 3rd and 5, Burrow, under pressure, flung the ball down the right sideline, seemingly throwing it away, but rookie receiver Tee Higgins went up to snare it and tap his feet down inbounds at the Titans’ 17-yard line. On the next 3rd down, the Titans, again with heavy pressure, were able to force a throwaway and hold the Bengals offense to a field goal in the red zone. The Bengals took an early 3-0 lead.
The Titans took over and drove quickly down the field. A play-action diving catch by tight end Jonnu Smith got things started, and a Ryan Tannehill scramble followed by a strike down the sideline to Corey Davis put the ball at the Cincinnati 8. But on the next play, Tannehill rolled out to his right and forced a pass to A.J. Brown in double coverage. It was intercepted in the end zone by Jessie Bates.
On the Bengals following possession, a penalty against Rashaan Evans negated a nice pass breakup by Jayon Brown to give the Bengals a first down. The Titans defense forced an incompletion at the sideline at the Cinci 37-yard line on 3rd and 4 three plays later, and the Bengals punted it back to Tennessee.
D’Onta Foreman took his first hand off as a Titan to start the next drive. Davis made another big catch and run, hauling in the deflected pass, to move the Titans inside the 35-yard line of Cincinnati, but the drive would stall from there, bringing Stephen Gostkowski on to try a 53-yard field goal in the windy conditions. Those conditions would prove too challenging, and the Titans kicking woes continued. Bengals took over at the their own 43-yard line.
End 1Q — Titans 0, Bengals 3
Cincinnati again moved the ball methodically, with Auden Tate extending on an early 3rd and 8 to keep the chains moving. Mike Vrabel challenged a 3rd-down catch a few plays later, but the ruling was upheld. Johnathan Joseph was whistled for a questionable pass interference penalty in the end zone on the next snap before Samaje Perine punched it in from the one. Bengals took a 10-0 lead.
The ensuing Titans drive saw a heavy dose of Derrick Henry, with runs of 9, 13, and 8 to start the drive, the last of which received an extra 15 yards for a horsecollar tackle. Foreman came back in for a couple of nice runs, taking it to the Cinci 16-yard line. The Titans then fed Henry some more, and four carries later (with one incompletion sprinkled in), Henry was in the end zone. The Titans had narrowed the Bengals lead to 10-7.
The Titans defense appeared to be in trouble again on the Bengals next drive. A 12-yard run by Giovani Bernard led to a 13-yard strike to Higgins over the middle. The Titans forced a 4th and 5, on which Burrow bought time to throw and eventually found Higgins at the Titans’ 21-yard line for a 22-yard gain. A couple plays later, Bernard was into the end zone on a 12-yard scamper to extend Cincinnati’s lead to 17-7.
The Titans would have a chance for points with 32 seconds left in the half. Attempting to get into field goal range, Tannehill fired deep for Adam Humphries over the middle, who took a huge hit from Bates and hit his head hard on the turf. They brought out a stretcher, but Humphries was able to get to his feet and was carted off the field for treatment. The Titans weren’t able to get into field goal range, and the game went to half.
End 1H — Titans 7, Bengals 17
The Titans started to put together a nice drive to open the second half. A big completion to Corey Davis and another to Jonnu Smith moved the ball across midfield, but a holding penalty brought the offense back. They were unable to overcome on 3rd and 12. Brett Kern came on looking to pin the Bengals deep, punting from the Cincinnati 36-yard line, but with such a short field in front of him, the ball sailed into the end zone.
After allowing Burrow to complete a series of quick passes, the defense forced a pair of incompletions leading to 3rd and 10. Three different Titans — Harold Landry, Chris Jackson, and Jadeveon Clowney — all had a shot to bring down Burrow. He somehow evaded all of them, but was only able to scramble for a short game. Tennessee forced a much-needed punt to retake possession.
Henry got the next drive started with a 21-yard carry. A couple plays later, with an important 3rd and 4 looming, Tannehill drew the Bengals offsides to pick up another first down. Foreman busted a 15-yard run, but moments later the offense faced a 3rd and 8. Tannehill was sacked, and the Titans had no choice but to punt again from near midfield.
Cincinnati took over at their own 14 and proceeded to march down the field yet again. The Titans defense showed little resistance, allowing completion after completion and failing to put the Bengals behind the sticks, only forcing one 3rd down in 9 plays (which Burrow converted on a contested completion to Tyler Boyd). The third quarter wound to a close with the Bengals threatening again at the Titans 16-yard line.
End 3Q — Titans 7, Bengals 17
The Titans forced a quick third down to start the quarter, but maybe that was the wrong move given how bad they are on 3rd down. Burrow went back to Boyd, this time in the end zone for the touchdown. Bengals led 24-7 with 13:55 remaining.
The Titans put together a little drive with Henry surpassing 100 yard on the day followed by multiple completions each to Davis and Brown. After Saffold exited briefly with an injury, Jeremy McNichols burst through the line for 17 down to the 9 yard line. On the next play, Brown broke a couple tackles on a short catch in the flat and found the end zone. Titans cut the Bengals lead to 24-14.
The Bengals brought the ensuing kickoff out across midfield on a huge return. The Titans defense continued to struggle. A dropped interception by Malcolm Butler would prove costly. A deflating 3rd-and-9 conversion on the next snap led to a Bernard touchdown reception a couple plays later. Bengals go over 30 to take a 31-14 lead with 7:30 left.
In full desperation mode, the Titans came out firing with completions of 10 and 25 to Firkser and then 12 and 10 to Davis. After two near interceptions by Tannehill, the Titans quarterback hit Davis on an acrobatic toe-tapping touchdown catch in the front corner of the end zone. The Titans went up and down the field — 75 yards over 6 plays — in 1:34 to keep the comeback within reach. A low snap led to a botched extra point attempt, making the Bengals lead 31-20 with 5:56 on the clock.
In dire need of a stop, the Titans came up with a miraculous interception on a fantastic read and undercut of Burrow’s pass by Brown. But the refs threw a mysterious flag for defensive pass interference, negating the turnover. A couple plays later, the Bengals essentially closed things out with an improbable sideline grab near midfield.
Winding the clock down to 23 seconds, the Bengals punted away to give the Titans a chance to pick up 8 meaningless yards as time expired.
It was an embarrassing performance from Vrabel’s team. They’ll have a lot of soul searching to do and corrections to make as they prepare to host the Chicago Bears at Nissan Stadium next Sunday.
Final: Titans 20, Bengals 31
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