NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — So much for that strong start by the Baltimore Ravens.
They followed up their impressive 35-7 victory over defending AFC champion Pittsburgh by hitting the road Sunday and losing 26-13 to the Tennessee Titans. A week after forcing a franchise-record seven turnovers, they came up with only one in a fluke bounce off a Tennessee lineman’s helmet and never sacked Matt Hasselbeck.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh credited the Titans with beating the Ravens (1-1) every way a team can. He isn’t subscribing to the theory of a big letdown by his Ravens after an emotional victory over their rivals.
“We didn’t play as well. I don’t have any theory right now. Everybody’s going to have a theory, and none of them are going to be right. We didn’t make plays when we needed to make plays. We didn’t get off the field on third down. That’s really the bottom line,” Harbaugh said.
The Ravens have had one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses for years, but they struggled against the Titans offense after Terrell Suggs got the lone turnover on Tennessee’s second series. The Ravens gave it right back when Alterraun Verner picked off Joe Flacco’s pass, one of three turnovers by Baltimore.
“If we didn’t respond well to this, then I’ll be disappointed in the guys and in myself for letting that happen,” Flacco said. “I think we’re better than that.”
Titans receiver Kenny Britt appeared to have his way with Baltimore’s secondary, racking up 135 yards on nine receptions with a touchdown. All-Pro safety Ed Reed was called for a facemask penalty against Britt after the receiver caught a 16-yard pass from Hasselbeck in the first quarter, though Britt said Reed apologized immediately.
Britt put the Titans ahead 10-7 in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown catch. Before the play started, Ravens cornerback Dominique Foxworth backed off Britt to give himself a cushion, but the receiver ran right at Foxworth and turned around, screening the veteran for the easy score.
Nate Washington also hauled in seven catches for 99 yards as Tennessee (1-1) held the ball for more than 35 minutes and outgained Baltimore 432-229 in total offense.
The third quarter was particularly rough for the Ravens. They had the ball for less than five minutes and were outgained 147-43.
Tennessee outscored Baltimore 10-0.
“They came out there and put points on the board and, once again, we didn’t get into any rhythm,” Flacco said. “We had a couple of third and longs and we couldn’t convert them.”
Baltimore had one last chance to get into the game in the fourth quarter, when Flacco drove the Ravens down to first-and-goal at the Titans 9. But Tennessee broke up two passes, the last by Cortland Finnegan, while the Ravens were called for delay of game. They had to settle for Billy Cundiff’s second field goal with 6:58 left to pull within 23-13.
Tennessee then ran out all but 31 seconds before Bironas kicked his fourth field goal to finish off the win.
The Titans set the tone from the opening kickoff, deferring to let Baltimore take the ball on offense. Tennessee forced the Ravens to go three-and-out on their first two possessions, with Verner’s INT ending the third. Playing field position helped the Titans push the Ravens to start two drives at their own 4 and held them to 25 yards in the first quarter.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)