NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Good NFL teams maintain a high level of play regardless of the opponent. That's exactly what the Tennessee Titans failed to do in their 31-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It was a failure in all three phases of the game.
The offense mustered up seven points in the first three quarters before adding two more touchdowns late in the game. Special teams looked bad as well. A 49-yard return by Brandon Wilson helped the Bengals respond to the Titans' touchdown in the fourth quarter when they tried to mount a comeback. Long-snapper Beau Brinkley's bad snap caused a botched extra point attempt after their third touchdown.
The defense continued to struggle, too. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense churned out 367 yards. Burrow finished with 249 passing yards on 26 completions and two touchdowns.
Third-down woes plagued the Tennessee defense once again. Cincinnati converted 10 of their 16 third-down opportunities.
Describe the game in two words: Dumpster fire. This game was a mess from the start as the Bengals jumped out to a 10-0 lead. The Titans came out flat against a team that should not have dominated the way it did for most of the game.
Troubling trend: The inability to get to the quarterback reared its ugly head once again. Burrow was able to set up shop in the pocket and scan the field with relative ease. That's exactly what he did on a fourth-and-5 play in the first half when he found Tee Higgins for a 22-yard gain to set up their second touchdown. When the Titans actually managed to get pressure on Burrow, he showed Houdini-like ability to escape situations that should have resulted in a sack. The Bengals gave up 28 sacks in seven games before facing the Titans. Tennessee couldn't get to Burrow despite facing four backups along the Bengals' offensive line.
Pivotal play: The Titans drove into the red zone on their first drive of the game. Ryan Tannehill was on the move to his right when he saw A.J. Brown coming open in the end zone. But Bengals safety Jessie Bates swooped in to pick the ball off for a touchback. Tannehill's tight-window pass attempt to Brown in the red zone is the kind of play that normally goes Tennessee's way. The Titans had scored a touchdown on 80% of their red-zone drives entering the week, second-best in the NFL. Tannehill had 13 touchdowns and no0 interceptions in the red zone this season and was completing an NFL-best 82% of his red-zone passes before that INT. That was an early win for the Bengals and set the tone for the game.