NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Mularkey insists his Tennessee Titans are a good team. Yet for every great offensive drive or defensive stand, they stumble through stretches of games.
The Titans blew a 23-20 lead in the fourth quarter in losing 34-26 to Indianapolis , their 10th straight loss to their AFC South rival and worse considering the banged-up roster the Colts brought to Tennessee. The loss dropped Tennessee to 3-4 overall and just 1-3 at home.
Now the Titans face a quick turnaround, hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) on Thursday night. Mularkey said Monday the key to being better more consistently is keep working like they have.
"We've played seven games, we've had chances to win in all of them," Mularkey said. "And for some reason or not, we haven't. And some reason or not, we have. What we've done good has helped us get over the top. These have all been close games, and we've just got to find a way."
Mularkey said all the Titans believed they would hold the Colts to a field goal at worst and win. Yet, Andrew Luck converted a third-and-13 with a 20-yard pass to set up the go-ahead TD before Marcus Mariota was sacked and stripped of the ball for a second Colts' TD eight seconds later.
"We have to find a way to stop them on the last drive defensively," Mularkey said.
Coaches alerted the Titans to expect an onside kick by the Colts, and Phillip Supernaw couldn't corral the ball.
"We need somebody to make a play at some point in the game," Mularkey said.
The Titans have not lost any game this season by more than nine points, and two of their three wins have been by a combined three points. After winning only five games combined over the past two seasons, the Titans are trying to work their way back up the AFC South standings in a year that saw a new general manager add 23 new players to the roster.
Veteran cornerback Jason McCourty said after the game this latest loss hurts the most.
"We had an opportunity in our hands," McCourty said. " The division is kind of wide open, and to kind of squander it away ... I feel like week in and week out, in our losses, we keep walking away saying, 'We fought hard, we hung tight and we just weren't able to close it.' We've obviously done it in a few games, this year, but we just haven't been able to consistently do it."
That makes Thursday night even more crucial wrapping up a three-game home stand. The Titans currently are 1-3 on their own field with the lone victory over the winless Cleveland Browns, and their remaining three home games are against a trio of teams with winning records in Green Bay, Denver and Houston.
Jacksonville, coming off a 33-16 loss to Oakland, is the only team the Titans beat in Nashville in 2014 and 2015. Now 0-2 in the AFC South, the Titans need a win desperately.
Mularkey notes the NFL is filled with teams bunched at 3-4 and 4-3 right now. Only four teams have five or more wins.
"Somebody's going to come out of this thing at some point," Mularkey said. "I don't know why it can't be us."
Notes: Mularkey said Monday the Titans will be without a pair of starters. Left guard Quinton Spain hyperextended his right knee and has a bone bruise that will keep him out up to four weeks, while cornerback Perrish Cox is in the concussion protocol.