It was a good news, bad news kind of day on Sunday for the Titans.
First, the bad news: The Titans went toe-to-toe with the high-flying New Orleans Saints before losing, 38-28, at Nissan Stadium. It was the team’s second straight loss after winning four games in a row.
The good news is the Titans are now in a win-and-in playoff scenario next Sunday in Houston. A win vs. the Texans and the Titans would claim a Wild Card spot in the AFC playoffs. A win by the New York Jets over the Steelers on Sunday cracked the door for the Titans in Week 7.
The Titans dropped to 8-7 with the loss on Sunday, while the Saints improved to 12-3.
The Titans got off to a fast start on Sunday to claim an early touchdown lead, and then fought back late, before the Saints clinched it.
The Titans took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 41-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to tight end Jonnu Smith.
On the team’s next possession, Titans rookie A.J. Brown took a handoff and sprinted 39 yards for a touchdown, making it 14-0 barely 10 minutes into the game.
But the Saints rallied, cutting the lead to 14-10 on a 61-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Brees to tight end Jared Cook, which followed a 47-yard field goal by kicker Wil Lutz earlier in the second quarter.
It was 14-10 Titans at the half.
The Saints then surged ahead 17-14 on a 40-yard touchdown run by Alvin Kamari just one minute into the third quarter. Another Kamara touchdown, this one from one yard out, midway through the third quarter made it 24-14.
A few minutes later, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill found receiver Tajae Sharpe open for a 36-yard touchdown pass, which made it 24-21 with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
But the Saints responded with a quick scoring drive of their own to reclaim a ten-point lead, going up 31-21 on a 16-yard touchdown toss from Brees to Cook again.
Back came the Titans. Tannehill connected with Sharpe again for a touchdown – this time from seven yards out – to make it 31-28 with 7:27 left in the contest. When the Titans got the ball back, Tannehill connected with receiver Kalif Raymond for a big play across the middle, but the ball was dislodged and the Saints recovered the fumble and returned it deep into Tennessee territory.
Brees connected with Thomas for a two-yard touchdown to make it 38-28 with 2:10 left and the Saints held on.
Titans running back Derrick Henry, who is dealing with a lingering hamstring injury, was among the team’s inactives. Dion Lewis started in his place at running back, and Lewis and Dalyn Dawkins both got carries on offense for the Titans.
The Titans travel to Houston to face the Texans in the regular season finale next Sunday.