Nashville, TN – The Cleveland Browns (2-2) down 28-10 and the end of the first half score 19 unanswered points to beat the Tennessee Titans (1-4) 29-28 at LP Field Sunday. Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer connected with Travis Benjamin for a 6 yard touchdown pass with 1:09 remaining in the 4th quarter to seal the deal for Cleveland.
“Well, you know, needless to say it was an unbelievably tough loss for us today after we played so well in the first half and have things not go our way in the second half,” said Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt after the game.
“There were a lot of things that went on in that second half that could have gone either way. It didn’t seem to go our way. A lot of it was self-inflicted. You know those are the things we got to eliminate if we are going to win football games,” stated Whisenhunt.
Slow starts have been a problem for Tennessee this season. In the first four games, opponents have outscored the Titans 27-0 in the 1st quarter.
That wasn’t a problem Sunday. On their second possession, quarterback Jake Locker led the Titans on a 7 play scoring drive that was punctuated with a Locker 11 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kendall Wright. Tennessee would score again, early in the 2nd quarter, when Locker ran it in from 11 yards out.
Locker left the game in the 2nd quarter after hitting his hand on the helmet of Browns corner back Buster Skrine while trying to complete a pass to tight end Delanie Walker.
“We got the penalty. We were excited about getting the first down. I went to do something and kind of felt it and looked down and it was swollen up pretty good already,” said Locker. “I tried to move it to see if I could grab the ball and wasn’t really able to at that point.”
More tests will be done on Locker’s injured right thumb today.
Before leaving the game with a right hand injury, Jake Locker was having a big day. He had completed 8 of 11 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Whitehurst ended the day 13 of 12 for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Shone Greene ran for 36 yards on 11 carries. Bishop Shankey had 8 rushes for 27 yards.
Kendall Wright had big game as well. Wright caught 6 passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball twice for 43 yards. Wright now has nine career touchdown receptions.
Justin Hunter had 3 receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown for Tennessee.
“It’s encouraging to see some of the plays that we made as a unit in the first half. We did a lot of good things. It’s also discouraging that we weren’t able to do that in the second half,” said Whisenhunt. “We had a big play to start the second half off, and we don’t hold on to the football. Those are the kind of things that, you have to make those plays.”
Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer threw for 292 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on 21 of 37 attempts. The interception was the Browns first turnover of the year.
Running back Ben Tate rushed for 123 yards on 22 attempts. Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel had 4 receptions for 95 yards. Travis Benjamin caught 4 balls for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
When asked how he expects the team will respond, Whisenhunt stated, “Well, we will go back to work. It is obvious that we made progress from last week with having worked and it showed on the field in the first half. I mean, I really believe we are on the right track with what we are doing with our players.”
“Well, I mean that hurt us, too. You know, we can’t have a blocked punt. Special teams have not performed for us. That’s an area that has to get better,” said Whisenhunt.
“This is a disappointing loss for us. We fought hard in the first half, and came back out in the second half and we let them back in the game. It shouldn’t have been that close at the end, in my opinion,” stated Titans linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. “We made some mistakes and they capitalized, and they were able to win the game.”
The Titans also had a few injuries during the game. Tight end Craig Stevens injured his thigh. Bernard Pollard hurt his right leg and Coty Sensabaugh had a MCL.
On a high note, Tennessee recorded a season high 410 total net yards against the Brown and were 57 percent on third down (8-14).
The Tennessee Titans are back in action Sunday, October 12th, when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field. Kickoff is at 12:00pm CDT.