NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Slow starts have been a common theme in four of the five losses the Tennessee Titans have suffered this season, including Sunday's 40-14 loss at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.
The Titans need to start faster so they can rely on Derrick Henry to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Henry's 478 rushing yards in the fourth quarter leads all offensive players, not just running backs. He also has three fourth-quarter touchdowns, 12th among running backs.
The loss to the Packers was frustrating for the Titans because they were outmatched on a night when they could have secured their first AFC South division title since 2008. Fortunately, the Titans can still clinch the division with a win over the 4-10 Houston Texans in the season finale (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS) because they hold the tiebreaker over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Texans' offense is averaging 23 points, but has lost four games in a row. A slow start can't happen against a struggling opponent.
"I don’t think you can do that against anybody," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "The mistakes that we made and the start that we had, just not going to be good enough."
Tennessee relies on their physical offensive style to wear teams down so they can take over late in the game. Under offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, the Titans are averaging 6.2 points a game in the first quarter. That number jumps to 8.5 points in the fourth quarter.
The Titans were unable to get into the end zone in the fourth quarter on Sunday. After falling behind 19-0 to Green Bay, Tennessee could not recover. The defense couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers from scoring touchdowns on their first three trips to the red zone and rolling up 448 yards of offense.
"It was a slow start and really didn’t get a whole lot going throughout the game. We were able to get points there before half," Tannehill said on Sunday. "We definitely need to start faster. When you play a good offense on the other side you are going to have to score points, and we didn’t do that."
A couple of uncharacteristic turnovers by Tannehill didn't help, either. He tried to force some throws to spark the offense and it resulted in two interceptions.
Tannehill threw one of his interceptions in the second quarter, leading to the Packers' third touchdown. His other interception came in the third quarter, but Malcolm Butler got the ball back for them with an interception on Green Bay's next series.
A loss like the one the Titans suffered against the Packers can sting for a while. But the players need to put it behind them because a loss to the Texans could result in the Titans missing the playoffs altogether.
"It's important for us to find a way to regroup and forget this game because one of the goals that we set before the season is still there," safety Kevin Byard said. "We have to get things fixed so we can go out and try to win the division next week."