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Notebook: Offense Struggles in Titans Loss

Posted Dec 23, 2012

It was sunny and clear, but Tennessee’s mistakes snowballed Sunday in Green Bay.

The Titans suffered a 55-7 loss to the NFC North champion Packers, but avoided the shutout when Jake Locker connected with Kenny Britt on consecutive pass plays late in the game.

Locker hit Britt for a gain of 39 and followed with a 2-yard touchdown with 1:39 remaining. The two plays were the only times that the second-year QB and first-year starter connected with the fourth-year receiver on six targets.

Locker finished 13-for-30 for 140 yards passing. His numbers improved in the second half, but they weren’t enough to overtake a first half in which he was 3-for-12 for 35 yards with two interceptions.

“Obviously we didn’t play very well at all today against a team that I thought we would play much better against,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “On the offensive side of the ball, we struggled, turned the ball over and missed plays that were there for us. We lost confidence in what we were doing because of having a lot of different guys playing due to injuries. We got behind early and we were forced to throw much more than we wanted to. You aren’t going to win many games when you go three-and-out the first three times and turn the ball over twice against a good football team at home.”

A costly missed opportunity occurred on the first play of the Titans’ second possession. Locker bought time and spotted rookie tight end Taylor Thompson open down the field, but the ball was underthrown. Thompson tried to come back to it and secured it with his hands, but the ball touched the ground.

Tennessee suffered a delay of game penalty before its next play, creating a second-and-15. Locker’s pass on that play was too high for Nate Washington, which created one of several third-and-long situations that hurt the Titans.

“It is never easy to lose, especially like this,” Locker said. “You just have to keep working and find ways to overcome it and get better. There are a bunch of things that you can point to today, but it just seemed like there were a lot of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on today.”

Green Bay outgained Tennessee 210 to 96 yards in the first half and 460 to 180 for the game. The Packers’ offense scored seven touchdowns and their defense recorded seven sacks of Locker.

Green Bay often blitzed against the Titans’ offensive line that has one remaining starter — left tackle Michael Roos — from training camp that hasn’t suffered a season-ending injury this year.

Tennessee’s offensive line had two players — left guard Mitch Petrus and right tackle Byron Stingily — make their first starts of the season. The Titans slid Fernando Velasco back to center after playing the past two games at left guard in place of Steve Hutchinson.

Petrus, who was claimed through waivers Dec. 5, played for the first time in a Titans uniform, and Stingily was a late addition to the lineup for Mike Otto, who replaced injured David Stewart on Dec. 2 but missed Sunday’s game because of illness.

“I don't want to use (the changes) as an excuse, because we're all pros,” Velasco said. “Our coaches did a good job of getting everybody reps, so that isn't an excuse. We just have to execute.”

Tennessee’s first five possessions lasted just three plays each. The Titans failed to convert third-and-11, third and 15 and two third-and-21s in the first quarter. They trailed 14-0 before gaining their first first down on a 22-yard scramble by Locker, who had 32 yards rushing on four carries.

The Packers (11-4) claimed their home finale and won for the ninth time in 10 games. The Titans (5-10) finished their road schedule 2-6 and will close the 2012 season Sunday by hosting Jacksonville (2-13).

RUN GAME STRUGGLES: The Titans’ run game also struggled, netting 79 rush yards on 22 carries. Those numbers were impacted by seven rush plays that gained zero yards or lost yardage.

Chris Johnson left the game briefly in the second quarter after Packers linebacker Clay Matthews landed on him during a tackle. Jamie Harper relieved Johnson, taking reps the following series, and had runs of 13 and 9 yards, but that drive stalled at the Green Bay 31-yard line when Tennessee was unable to convert third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 while trailing 17-0 with more than 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Johnson finished with 28 yards on 11 carries, and Harper had 19 yards on six attempts.

Green Bay, meanwhile, rushed 35 times for 117 yards, including 80 yards and two touchdowns by Ryan Grant, and threw for 343 net passing yards. Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, completed 27 of 38 passes for 342 yards with three touchdowns and ran for the Packers’ first touchdown of the game.

MARTIN ADDS SACK: Titans rookie defensive tackle Mike Martin recorded his third sack of the season. Martin dropped Rodgers for a loss of eight to force a punt late in the first quarter, but it was Tennessee’s lone sack of the day as Rodgers’ mobility helped him avoid pressure and he used several three-step drops to quickly get rid of the ball in the second half.

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