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The Tennessee Titans (4-4) battled hard, but ultimately lost a close game 24-17 to the visiting Cincinnati Bengals (6-2). Despite looking the stronger team early on at LP Field, the Titans could not maintain their first half momentum, and gave up 17 unanswered points in the second half as they fell to defeat.
The Bengals continued to suffer from the absence of injured linebacker Rey Maualuga, as well as tight end Jermaine Gresham, although defensive end Carlos Dunlap was available after being listed as doubtful. Although the Titans had injury problems of their own, especially in the secondary, they were more concerned with the poor form of running back Chris Johnson, whose future in Tennessee seems to become less and less certain with each poor performance the tailback turns in.
Tennessee took an early lead with a field goal in the first quarter, but the lead was not to last long, with quarterback Andy Dalton picking out tight end Colin Cochart for a one-yard touchdown, making the score 7-3 to the visitors. The Titans regained their lead quickly though, wide receiver Damian Williams making an excellent catch at the back of the endzone for an eight-yard touchdown.
With time running down in the second, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck orchestrated a drive down the field with a culmination of timeouts and the Titan’s no-huddle offense, which ultimately resulted in Hasselbeck passing for 16 yards to Lavelle Hawkins and the touchdown.
Cincinnati continued to look dangerous however, and cut the lead to just three points when Dalton threw his second touchdown pass of the night, this time to Jerome Simpson for 15 yards. Dalton then continued to lead the Bengals comeback, ending the visitors drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Andre Caldwell, giving them a four point lead over the Titans.
A field goal from Mike Nugent with two minutes left to play was enough to secure the win for the Bengals, and Head Coach Marvin Lewis will be pleased with his side’s second half comeback in what was a challenging away game. Dalton impressed throughout the game, and was pivotal in leading his side’s comeback, passing for 217 yards, as well as three touchdowns.
Rookie wide receiver A.J. Green also continued to impress, making 83 yards on seven receptions, and distancing himself at the top of the rookie receptions table. Although the Titans will be disappointed with a loss at home, especially after they took a substantial lead early in the game, but the continuing good form of Hasselbeck will not leave Titan’s fans completely disheartened.
Tailback Johnson’s 64 yards from 14 carries, and 46 yards from four receptions may not be particularly sensational, they do represent an improvement on his recent form, and the quickest way for the Titans to return to winning ways would be for Johnson to find his groove again, which would in turn allow for Hasselbeck to be even more effective.
The Bengals now face a testing schedule for the next four weeks, which sees them meet the Steelers (twice), Ravens and Browns, in a series of games which could make or break their season.
The Titans face a slightly easier challenge, taking on the Panthers and Buccaneers in their next games, but will be eager to ensure they do not have any slip-ups as they seek to put pressure on the Houston Texans at the top of the AFC South.
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