Titans finally at home for consecutive games looking for winning streak

Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker (37) celebrates with cornerback Elijah Molden (24) after making a stop against the Carolina Panthers on a fourth down play during the Panthers' final drive of the game in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker (37) celebrates with cornerback Elijah Molden (24) after making a stop against the Carolina Panthers on a fourth down play during the Panthers' final drive of the game in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans hope snapping a three-game skid with a win helps get their mojo back.

Staying at home for four of their final six games likely is their best chance at climbing back to .500 after a 17-10 win over Carolina that cost first-year Panthers coach Frank Reich his job Monday.

For now, the Titans (4-7) can simply be happy at not having to travel again. They host Indianapolis on Sunday for their first back-to-back home games this season, and coach Mike Vrabel isn't looking past the Colts (6-5) with Tennessee still looking for its first victory over a team currently with a winning record.

Vrabel said Monday he just wants his Titans to fight each week. They're closer to being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention than pushing for a postseason spot in last place in the AFC South with six teams ahead of them for the AFC's last berth.

This is a team that started a season-high four rookies led by quarterback Will Levis. The Titans played nine total rookies, tying a season high.

“We got to focus on this week,” Vrabel said. “We got to focus on health here, recovery, improvement, you know, these little details, these techniques that I know that we can be better at."

Outside linebacker Arden Key played in Jacksonville a year ago when the Jaguars finished the regular season by winning five straight to take the AFC South title away from Tennessee.

“We come in beat the Colts, it'll build more confidence,” Key said.

WHAT’S WORKING

The defense — at least in Nashville. The Titans are allowing just 15 points per game playing on their home field, and that is a good sign for a team with four games remaining at Nissan Stadium. They also had four sacks and allowed only 258 yards as the fifth straight team to hold Carolina to 15 points or fewer.

The Titans are tied for ninth in the NFL in giving up just 20.4 points a game.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The offense, at least in the second half. The Titans jumped out to a 17-3 lead at halftime, which is more points than they've scored in six road games or their “home” loss to Baltimore in London. Tennessee has been outscored in each of the third and fourth quarters and a combined 124-80 after halftime.

Against Carolina, the Titans couldn't manage to extend drives, holding the ball for only 3 minutes, 10 seconds in the third quarter. Their best possession came in the fourth quarter when they managed seven plays over 36 yards, and an 18-yard run by Derrick Henry was a big key to that drive eating up clock.

photo  Tennessee Titans defensive end Denico Autry celebrates after a sack during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans won 17-10. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
 
 

STOCK UP

Rookie Jaelyn Duncan. The sixth-round pick out of Maryland started his first NFL game at left tackle alongside fellow rookie Peter Skoronski, the 11th overall selection. Duncan was flagged once for a false start on third-and-3 in the third quarter.

He was part of the eighth different combination to start on the offensive line this season. Duncan also was among four rookies who started for Tennessee, which played nine total.

STOCK DOWN

Dillon Radunz. The third-year player made his fifth start this season and 10th of his career, this time at right tackle. He allowed the one sack Tennessee gave up, and he also was penalized for a false start. A starting job is there for the taking on this offensive line if 53rd overall draft pick in 2021 settles in.

INJURIES

The Titans made it through healthy. Their challenge now is getting players healthier for the stretch run.

WR Treylon Burks is the biggest injury, and the second-year starter missed his third straight game. He remains in the concussion protocol after being briefly knocked unconscious in the Nov. 2 loss at Pittsburgh.

KEY NUMBER

2-3: Levis' record as a starter. He led a TD drive of 9:36 that was Tennessee's longest since Nov. 17, 2022, in the team's most recent road win at Green Bay. Levis also needed four plays to set up Nick Folk's 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half in just 28 seconds.

NEXT STEPS

Try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season and beat a team with a winning record for the first time.

  photo  Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons (98) celebrates after a sack against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/John Amis)
 
 

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