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Sunday was a very winnable game and yet the Titans nearly blew it. Marcus Mariota and the Titans made enough mistakes to keep the Bengals in the game. Clearly, there seemed to be a sense of looking ahead.

Tennessee plays Pittsburgh on Thursday and perhaps that was a higher priority than the Bengals. Mariota played solid the whole game but had yet another interception. He made up for it with a game-winning drive late in the 4th quarter. Defensively the Titans had a good game with the exception of some blown coverage by Logan Ryan on A.J. Green.

It wasn’t all a series of mistakes. DeMarco Murray was a gigantic factor in the win. He not only rushed for two touchdowns but caught the game-winning score. Murray penetrated the Bengals defense with relative ease.

Mariota seemed a lot more comfortable now that Delanie Walker was back in the lineup. Walker didn’t light up the scoreboard or post awe-inspiring fantasy stats but he proved a dependable safety valve.

Going forward, the Titans have a short week and some injury trouble. Mariota hurt his non-throwing shoulder but should be ready for Thursday.

Mike Mularkey praised the team’s resilience but that might be charitable. Yes it was great they pulled out a victory but they can’t afford to get sloppy. Yes, they now stand at 6-3 but Jacksonville is breathing down their neck. Mariota proved he’s on his way to being a franchise quarterback yet again with that last drive. The problem is the Titans still feel like a receiver away from being scary. Eric Decker was a blown signing. Corey Davis is fine but hasn’t put together a consistent enough run to be truly dependable.

The team still runs the ball well but they clearly have a ceiling. They should close out the AFC South but they likely won’t get further than that. Teams make mistakes all the time but the Titans are doing so at the cost of their own potential. Eventually, it will cost them their season.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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