Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota was battered and beaten by a Browns front seven that proved to be to much for the Titans offensive line to handle early in the game, and when the Titans managed to mount a second half comeback, the Browns has the answer.
So how bad was it for the Titans on Sunday? We grade the game here.
The Titans managed to rush for 166 yards on the day, though two long runs helped bolster that toal. The first half was a struggle for the Titans to move the football on the ground consistantly, which was something the team needed to do to earn a win. Dexter McCluster led the Titans with 10 carries for 98 yards, while Bishop Sankey added 42 yards on 12 attempts.
Mariota tied another record held by an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback on Sunday when he connected for two more touchdown passes, giving him 6 for the season and tying him with Dan Marino as the only two quarterbacks to throw six TD passes in hif first two starts. Mariota finished the day 21 of 37 with 257 yards and two touchdowns. He also funbled three times, losing two. Mariota was sacked seven ties on the afternoon, and was noticiably limping throughout most of the second half.
The Titans’ run defense held Cleveland to 116 yards rushing on the afternoon, not a bad performance, though they had some chances to make a key stop in the fourth quarter and were unable to make some key tackles that allowed the Browns to keep a drive alive and run clock.
Coty Sensabaugh was victimized on the Browns first offensive play when Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel flung a pass deep down field for a 60 yard scoring strike to Travis Benjamin. Manziel and Benjamin would connect again in the fourth quarter to seal the Browns victory when Benjamin beat @Bilid Wreh-Wilson for a 50 yard scoring pass.
For the game, Manziel was 8 of 15 for 172 and two long touchdown passes. For Manziel, who was marginal at best, two of his completions accounted for 110 of his 172 total yards, but the Titans allowed a one trick pony quarterback to beat them deep twice.
Punt coverage was an issue throughout the afternoon as Benjamin consistantly had nice returns to avoid poor field position for their offense. None of them were better, or more damaging to the Titans that Benjamin's 78 yard touchdown return for a touchdown with just 1:12 left in the first half that gave the Browns the winning score.
The gameplan was flawed early on in the first half as the offense could not find any identity for the game. The running game was not strong and established nothing to help Mariota. Likewise the passing game was confused by the Browns front seven and their blitzes and pass rush. There were some adjustments that led to the two second half touchdowns, but it was to little, to late and the Titans never figured out how to stop the Browns blitzing.