NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** Here's a look at six things that stood out for Titans in 16-10 loss to Dolphins:
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said last week the Titans wanted to prove what happened in Houston "wasn't us." Well, the Titans regained their swagger on defense in Miami. The Dolphins managed just 12 first downs, and 92 pass yards, including just 78 net passing yards. The 78 net yards made up the lowest total by a Titans opponent since Sept. 19, 2010. The Titans held the Dolphins to just 5-of-15 on third down, and they played fast. Linebacker Avery Williamson led the team with seven tackles, and Jurrell Casey and DaQuan Jones were forces in the middle. I also thought rookie cornerback Adoree' Jackson really showed up, along with linebacker Wesley Woodyard and safety Kevin Byard, who recovered a fumble. Cornerback Tye Smith also recorded his first career interception.
Unfortunately the Titans were pretty inept most the game when they had the ball. The offense had eight drives that went three plays or less, not counting the one at the end of the game. The team was a miserable 2-of-13 on third down (15 percent), and quarterback Matt Cassel was sacked six times. The Titans couldn't run the ball consistently, and they couldn't make any big plays. The longest play of the game was just 17 yards. The Titans aren't the same team without starter Marcus Mariota, but across the board they needed to be better.
OK, I've always tried to keep officiating out of the 6-pack. In fact, I don't think it's ever been mentioned. But Sunday's calls earned the stripes a spot in here, along with a 'C'Mon Man!' or two. The pass interference call on tight end Jonnu Smith that wiped away a Delanie Walker touchdown? It was weak. The Cassel incomplete pass/fumble call that led to a Miami touchdown? Well, it was shaky at best, and some of the Titans said they heard a whistle blowing the play dead. And officials missed Jay Ajayi's knee being down short of the marker on a late third-down play that would've given the Titans the ball back with time. All three were head-scratchers.
What a day for the Titans punter. Kern kept the Dolphins backed up most of the day. He unleashed bombs of 71, 64, 63, 60, 58 on a day when he averaged 54.9 yards and a 50.2-yard net on 10 punts. Kern's net punting average set a career high and set the franchise's single-game record. In a three-week span, Kern has recorded the highest single-game net average in team history, the 10th-highest single-game net average (48.2 against Seattle on Sept. 24) and the ninth-highest single-game net average (48.4 at Houston on Oct. 1). Kern's 47.0-yard net punting average is currently the best in the NFL in 2017.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey wasn't pleased with all the yellow flags, and we're not just talking about the offensive pass interference penalty on Smith. The Titans were whistled for 11 penalties for 77 yards against the Dolphins, and many of them came in one facet of the game. "Special teams we have to quit the penalties. It's just undisciplined," Mularkey said. "A lot of it's the same guys. I got to take them off if they can't stop it."
So tight end Phillip Supernaw brought a lot of attention to himself midway through the third quarter. After the Titans reached Miami's one-yard line, Supernaw made it 1st and goal from the 6 with a false start. He then made it first and goal from the 11 with another false start. He was clearly ticked at himself. So what did he do? When Cassel threw the ball to Supernaw, he outmuscled a Dolphins defender to haul in his first career touchdown. It ended up being the team's only touchdown of the day. At least the only one that counted.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Miami Dolphins in Week 5 action at Hard Rock Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)