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Notebook: Titans get Turnovers but not Turnaround

Posted Oct 7, 2012

The Titans recorded interceptions on consecutive pass attempts by Vikings QB Christian Ponder, but Tennessee’s offense sputtered Sunday in a 30-7 loss at Minnesota.

Robert Johnson recorded his first career interception at the Tennessee two-yard line with 15 seconds remaining in the first half to deny the Vikings a chance to build on their 13-0 lead.

Ponder, who entered the game without an interception on the season, scrambled and tried to hit Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings’ tight end tipped it with one hand, and the ball deflected off the hands of Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner before Johnson secured it and tip-toed two yards up the sideline.

The Titans opted to take a knee to end the half and kicked off to Minnesota (4-1) to start the third period. Adrian Peterson opened the second half with a 34-yard run, but was stuffed on the next two plays, to set up a third-and-12 pass attempt by Ponder that Jordan Babineaux snagged and returned 10 yards to the Tennessee 40.

The Titans, however went three-and-out, with a gain of three and a loss of three by Chris Johnson and an incomplete pass by Matt Hasselbeck. Tennessee went three-and-out on its only other possession of the third quarter, suffering a holding penalty that stymied any positive movement.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said he was disappointed with how the team kept getting in its own way.

“I think we can play much, much better than we did today,” Munchak said. “We had a chance to do that, even at halftime at 13 to nothing, the game’s not lost. It wasn’t. And unfortunately, in the third quarter, we didn’t make a game out of it when we could have. The defense gave us a chance to do it and we didn’t, and then the fourth quarter happens and the game’s over.” 

Minnesota added 10 points in the third quarter, including the second TD by Percy Harvin and third field goal by Blair Walsh, converted eight first downs and possessed the ball for 11 minutes, 55 seconds in the third quarter.

Tennessee opened the game by moving the ball, but suffered a fumble by Chris Johnson near the end of the first quarter and an interception of Hasselbeck in the second quarter.

“I thought we started out well but we didn’t convert,” Hasselbeck said. “But, after that we could not sustain drives. It felt like we were in third and long positions, and that is not what you want to be in against this team. We wanted to have a lead on them, and we were not able to do that. Jared Cook is one of our biggest key players, and he was not getting the ball enough. Not being successful on the first and second downs was our problem.”

COOK SCORES TD: Hasselbeck connected with Cook for a 10-yard score early in the fourth quarter to make it 23-7. It was Cook’s second TD of the season, and the tight end finished with five catches for 37 yards.

WRIGHT LEADS ALL RECEIVERS: Rookie Kendall Wright led the Titans with a game-high nine receptions. He gained 66 yards on those catches and now has 27 receptions on the season.

“(Hasselbeck) was coming to me so I just have to be ready and make a play at all times, so hopefully we keep that rhythm and we all get on the same page so we can get back to Tennessee Titan football,” Wright said.

FAKE PUNT: Babineaux recorded the first rush attempt of his career and converted fourth-and-1 from the Tennessee 41-yard line late in the fourth quarter. The Titans lined punter Brett Kern on the line of scrimmage, and Babineaux took a direct snap and rushed for a 10-yard gain.

The Titans, however, lost the football on the next snap when Chris Johnson fumbled after a short gain.

RINGER HURT: Javon Ringer left the game on a cart in the fourth quarter after he suffered a knee injury when he was awkwardly tackled.

UP NEXT: The Titans (1-4) host Pittsburgh (2-2) Thursday night, and Munchak said it will be another tough challenge.

“You don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself. We have a game Thursday night against a very good football team that’s coming to Nashville, so maybe that’s the best thing for us – that we’re playing in four days against a good team. Maybe see how we respond to that.”

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