So much for home field advantage.
This was the type of game that could get your head coach fired. After two weeks of preparation, this was best the Tennessee Titans could do?
The Titans saved their worst game of the season for last. They were outcoached and outplayed in all phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams.
This was a total team collapse… a game Tennessee deserved to lose.
Story of the Game: Turnovers
The Titans’ meltdown began early in the second quarter. Coach Jeff Fisher decided to keep the offense on the field for a fourth-down play at the Baltimore 25-yard line. Kerry Collins fumbled the snap and lost eight yards on the play.
On the Titans next drive, the offense marched up the field from its own 1-yard line with good plays from Collins and Chris Johnson. But on the fifteenth play of the drive, Collins made a bad throw off his back foot. The pass was intercepted by former Titan Samari Rolle.
Tennessee was successful moving the ball on offense but continued to sabotage their effort. While driving down the field near the end of the second quarter, LenDale White fumbled, and the Ravens recovered on its own 15-yard line.
Three second quarter drives. Two turnovers.
The third quarter was like many of the third quarters for the Titans this season… very little offensive production or scoring.
On the Titans first possession of the fourth quarter, the offense squandered another good drive. Alge Crumpler caught a pass in the red zone and fumbled.
The Other Story of the Game: Penalties
Most penalties reflect a lack of player discipline. Tennessee committed 12 penalties for 89 yards. That’s 12 penalties in a playoff game. Nine of them were committed in the first half. Here’s a list.
1. William Hayes: unnecessary roughness, 15 yards, 1st qtr.
2. Kerry Collins, delay of game, 5 yards, 1st qtr.
3. Jason Jones, roughing the passer, 15 yards, 1st qtr.
4. Kyle Vanden Bosch, offside, 5 yards, 1st qtr.
5. Jacob Ford, offside, 5 yards, 2nd qtr.
6. Jake Scott, false start, 0 yards, 2nd qtr.
7. David Stewart, unnecessary roughness, 9 yards, 2nd qtr.
8. Justin McCareins, illegal shift, 5 yards, 2nd qtr.
9. Cortland Finnegan, offensive holding (punt return), 10 yards, 2nd qtr.
10. Michael Griffin, offside, 5 yards, 3rd qtr.
11. David Stewart, holding, 10 yards, 3rd qtr.
12. Jevon Kearse, offside, 5 yards, 4th qtr.
Again, this was a complete team meltdown.
It would be unfair to the Ravens not to recognize their effort in beating the Titans. The offense committed no turnovers, the defense forced turnovers, and Matt Stover was perfect on his two field goals.
Joe “Cool” Flacco was 11-of-22 for 161 yards. He threw a great 48-yard pass to Derrick Mason for the Ravens’ lone touchdown.
Ray Lewis delivered one of the hardest hits I’ve ever seen, or heard, in a football game. Lewis smacked Titans fullback Ahmard Hall on a pass play early in the second quarter. Watch the highlight reels for this one.
Offense sputters after Chris Johnson injury
During the first half, it appeared that the Titans Tracker game plan for victory was working: get the ball to Chris Johnson at least 30 times. Chris Johnson touched the ball 12 times, gained an even 100 yards, and scored the first touchdown of the game.
Somewhere along the way, Johnson injured an ankle and did not play during the second half.
Kerry Collins did the best he could without Johnson. He was especially sharp in the first half. The Ravens blitzed Collins often in the second half, and KC started to lose his composure, as evidenced by several off-the-back-foot throws.
Justin Gage had a great game. He made 10 catches for 135 yards.
The Curious Case of Justin McCareins
It appeared that Titans receiver Justin McCareins was benched by Titans coaches in the fourth quarter. He had at least one dropped pass, and contributed one of the Titans 12 penalties.
This might be McCareins last game as a Titan.
Titans still need playmakers
Tennessee lost primarily because the offense committed too many turnovers. Even so, the offense still needs more playmakers.
The Titans hit the jackpot with Chris Johnson, but they have to acquire a fast receiver who can line up with Justin Gage, separate from defenders and stretch the field.
What a season
13-3. One and done.
I didn’t expect the Titans season this way. Tennessee played with a complete lack of disciplined against the tough Baltimore Ravens.
But it’s over. It will be interesting to see what the coaches and players say about today’s loss, and how they bounce back in 2009.
I will continue blogging throughout the offseason, so stay tuned.
Watch highlights of the Titans-Ravens at NFL.com.