The wheels are falling off: Bengals dismantle Titans 35-6

The Titans suffered their third consecutive defeat in devastating fashion today, losing to the Bengals 35-6. The embarrassing loss leaves the Titans with a 6-5 record and sole possession of third place in the AFC South division. As a result of Cleveland’s victory over Houston (next week’s Titan opponent), Jeff Fisher’s squad is now one game behind the Browns in the race for the second wild card spot.
In what is quickly becoming a recurring theme for the Titans, Albert Haynesworth’s presence in the middle of the defensive line was missed yet again. Cincinnati’s 26th ranked rushing attack had a field day running the football, accumulating 148 yards on the ground.
As a result of Haynesworth’s absence, the Cincinnati running backs were able to consistently reach the second and third lines of the Titans’ defense today, forcing the Titans’ linebackers and secondary to make the majority of the team’s tackles. The Titans are now 0-3 without Big Al in the starting lineup and if the team has any hope of qualifying for the postseason, Haynesworth needs to return to the lineup ASAP.
The Titans’ pass defense also suffered from an awful performance. Carson Palmer completed 32 of his 38 passing attempts for 283 yards, throwing three touchdowns and one interception. Haynesworth’s absence takes away the one player on their defensive line that consistently commands a double team, so as a result, Palmer was able to sit back and torch the Titans’ secondary all game long. Mr. Ocho-Cinco himself, Chad Johnson, tormented Titan defensive backs throughout the afternoon, reeling in 12 receptions for 103 yards while scoring three touchdowns.
Offensively, the Titans had their struggles as well. Vince Young threw for 246 yards but was unable to lead his team into the end zone. Justin Gage continued to be the lone bright spot in the receiving game, catching 4 passes for 98 yards, including a 73 yard reception that would have been a touchdown if only he was able to remain inbounds. Over the last three ballgames, Gage has caught 17 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown, while emerging as Vince Young’s go-to guy in the Titans’ passing offense.
As a result of being behind, the Titans were forced to abandon their running game early in the contest. In limited opportunities, LenDale White failed to make a positive impact on the game, rushing for only 27 yards on 8 carries against Cincinnati’s 27th ranked rush defense. Chris Brown had an eerily similar performance, amassing 28 yards on 8 carries. Brown also had an apparent touchdown called back as a result of a Cincinnati replay challenge.
What appeared to be a promising season for the Titans has undoubtedly taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks. Strengths such as the running game and the play of the defense have turned into weaknesses during the Titans’ three-game losing streak. With only five games remaining in what appears to be an extremely competitive AFC playoff race, the Titans will need to get their act together pretty quickly if they are going to be playing football in January.

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