The weather played a huge roll in the Tennessee Titans second preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday as there was a large shower that covered the field during warm ups and then a lightening delay with 1:34 left in the third quarter that delayed the game by _________.
On the field between showers and lightening the Panthers used the first half to show that their offense with quarterback Cam Newton has picked up where he left off in 2015 as he directed his team to two first quarter scores to build a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.
Newton and his offensive mates needed just five plays to cover 93 yards in 2:12 to strike first when Ted Ginn Jr. broke free from the Titans secondary on the receiving end of a 61 yard scoring catch and run to push the Panthers in front 7-0.
A 41 yard Graham Gano field goal with :20 seconds left capped the first quarter scoring for the Panthers and left the Titans in an early 10-0 hole.
Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense would respond to open the second quarter when the quarterback comnnected with wide receiver @Harry DOuglas on a 23 yard scoring strike to cap a 9 play, 81 yard drive that consumed 4:06 and trimmed the Panthers advantage to 10-7.
.Gano's second field goal of the half capped the first half scoring and sent Carolina to the half leading 13-7.
Titans head coach Mike Mularkey commented on his offense after the forst thirty minutes of the game.
"I was pretty happy. We had two long drives. They made two very good plays on the interception," said Mularkey. "Obviously, we can't turn the ball over, but I was pretty pleased we came back and responded with a big touchdown to Harry (Douglas). But there are still some things we've got to fix."
The second half scoring began with a 48 yard field goal from Ryan Succop that cut the Panthers lead to 13-10. It would be as close as the Titans would get as the kick concluded an 8-play, 45 yad drive that took 4:56 seconds to complete.
The Panthers would find the end zone on their ensuing possession when second team quarterback Derek Anderson found wide receiver Kevin Norwood for an 8-yard touchdown. THe extra point attempt by back-up kicker Kasey Redfern left Carolina leading 19-10.
Midway through the fourth quarter Carolina would tack on another touchdown when third team qurterback Joe Webb connected with running back Jalen Simmons for six-yard reception to extend the Panthers lead to 26-10.
A Titans touchdown from tight end Alex Ellis, who worked himself open in the end zone for a 9 yard scoring strike from Alex Tanney provided the final score of the game as Carolina would exit Nissan Stadium with a 26-16 win.
Mularkey spoke on his teams performance following loss.
"I'm disappointed obviously in the loss. We wanted to come back and put back to back clean games togetgher, but we failed to do so and obviously we're playing against team that doesn't make a lot of mistakes, the don't turn the ball over, which they didn't do today and it's pretty evident what happens when you do (turn the ball over)," said Mularkey. "It's hard to beat good football team, but I told the team in the locker room there are some positives that ar going to come out of this but we are going to have to wait and watch the film to see some goo things that it will show and some players that stood out and it was a great game to teach off of."
Mariota had another good day, though his one interception came at a critical time as the Titans were driving toward a potential score against the Panthers first team defense in the first quarter. Still the numbers were good as the second year quarterback completed 9 of 10 passes (the only incompletion was the interception) for 104 yards and one touchdown along with the pick. His final quarterback rating was 103.8.
In two preseason games Mariota has yet to have a pass hit the ground after being perfect a week ago against San Diego and then today's near perfect outing. It is encouraging and his connection with rookie wide out Tajae Sharpe grows daily.
For the game, Sharpe collected six receptions for 68 yards and was the main target of Mariota on the first offenses touchdown drive.
The Titans will have the day off on Sunday and return to the practice field on Monday to begin preparing for their third preseason game one week from today when the travel to Oakland to face the Raiders in a 7 p.m. CST kickoff on the west coast.