It appeared that the Tennessee Titans could do the unthinkable. At least through three quarters.
But the Carolina Panthers wound up doing what they do best: win.
The Titans fell to 2-7 on the season after Sunday’s 27-10 loss at Nissan Stadium, seemingly erasing the momentum that the team had after winning in New Orleans.
And thanks to an unexpected win by Jacksonville in Baltimore, the Titans fell back into a familiar situation by sitting alone in the AFC South cellar.
Tennessee didn’t play horrible football. Sometimes you simply have to give credit where it’s due.
The Panthers are 9-0 for a reason. Every time you thought the Titans were about to turn the corner, Carolina made a play. That’s what great teams do.
The Titans aren’t a great team. At least not yet. After such a horrible start to the season, all problems weren’t going to be solved this quickly. Even had Tennessee won this game, it wouldn’t have completely fixed the franchise.
And while the Titans had a chance, they were far from the favorite. A win against the Panthers was asking too much.
It makes sense why a lot of fans were excited following the win over the Saints. It was the first sign that this team may in fact have key pieces of the puzzle in place.
But right now, Carolina has more. Way more. So freaking out over a loss to an undefeated Super Bowl contender would be absurd.
This loss will undoubtedly knock the confidence and momentum that was there a week ago. That’s really all it does. It tells us nothing about this team that we didn’t already know.
If you want to blame someone for the loss, blame the schedule makers. This just was not a good matchup for the Titans. Especially coming off of the biggest win of the season. You almost wish they could have convinced the league to switch the Carolina and Jacksonville games.
Speaking of the Jaguars, that’s where the real measure of where this team stands will come.
The Titans enter their only primetime game of the season on Thursday in Jacksonville. If you want to measure progress, that’s the game to look at.
A 10th straight home loss on Sunday was certainly disappointing. But given the opponent, it didn’t set this team back.
A loss in Jacksonville would be much more disappointing. The Jaguars aren’t a good team, but again, they found a way to beat the Ravens on the road.
However, this is still a game that you mark on your schedule as winnable. It has to be.
Tennessee is never going to return to prominence if it can’t beat teams like Jacksonville. Jags fans won’t like that, but the fact is that these two teams are in a similar situation. Neither can find a way to get over the hump and in order to finally get there, one team must prove that it’s making more strides than the other.
A matchup between a 2-7 team and a 3-6 team won’t draw in a whole lot of viewers. But that’ll be the least of Mike Mularkey’s concerns heading into Thursday.
There’s no doubt that the Titans have shown progress in his two weeks as interim head coach. First a win, then a competitive performance against the NFC’s top team.
But wins will ultimately determine Mularkey’s job security and a Titans turnaround.
Losing to Carolina wasn’t a huge setback towards that turnaround. A loss to Jacksonville would be.