If someone told the Tennessee Titans they will hold perennial All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson to 31 yards rushing on 19 carries, hold the Minnesota Vikings to 301 total yards while winning the time-of-possession battle, they would take it. However, two second half defensive touchdowns sealed the Titans fate, losing 25-16 in Nashville Sunday afternoon.
“It’s a tale of two halves for our team today, and really I thought our defense was pretty sound for the whole game,” Titans Head Coach Mike Mularkey said in his postgame press conference. “The objective was to stop Adrian Peterson and I think they did that, and he’s a great back. The turnovers were catastrophic. I’ve never had a game where you have one turnover, but two for scores and we still felt like we had a chance to win. Even as doomed as it looked, we still feel like we had a chance to win. Again, our defense gave us a chance.”
In the first half, the Titans ran for 48 yards on 14 carries and Mariota completed 13-of-21 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown to DeMarco Murray. Murray also had 32 rushing uards and 31 receiving yards in the half. The Titans controlled the time of possession 17:32 to the Vikings 12:28.
The Titans outgained the Vikings 316 to 301 and the Vikings did not score an offensive touchdown. Quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 25 of 41 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns for the game. However, he threw an interception that was returned 77 yards for a touchdown by Eric Kendricks and that play immediately swung the momentum to the Minnesota defense.
“That’s just a case of me trying to do too much,” Mariota said in his post game press conference. “They had the right play call on defense. You know, again I probably should have just thrown the ball away, moved on to the next play. Something I can learn from. We just kind of beat ourselves today. You know, we are moving the ball efficiently. We end up giving them 14 points and you can’t do that … We are moving the ball, the defense is playing great and we just kind of gave them the game. You know that’s on me and I can do a better job with it.”
Even though the Titans did positive things with the ball in the first half, they contained Mariota by keeping him in the pocket and forced him to read coverages. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer mixed defensive looks and confused the second-year signal caller. Minnesota returned all eleven starters on defense from last year’s team and Zimmer wanted his team to turn the Titans over without sacrificing proper technique.
The Titans are 0-1 and their next game will be against the Detroit Lions. Kickoff is next Sunday at 12:00PM CDT (1:00 PM EDT).