NASHVILLE — The urgency was there for the Green Bay Packers heading into Nissan Stadium on the heels of back-to-back losses to Atlanta and Indianapolis.
Unfortunately for Green Bay, the execution was not.
Miscues in all three phases of the game factored into the Packers’ 47-25 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, beginning with falling behind by 21 in the opening quarter.
The offense registered its second consecutive 400-yard performance but couldn’t keep pace with the Titans and second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota, who threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns.
Tennessee amassed 351 of its 446 total yards during a 35-point first half to build up a lead it wouldn’t look back from.
“It’s not what you want but it’s the situation we put ourselves in,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “We had all the confidence that we would continue to score and we had faith in our defense to stop them. We didn’t get enough stops or enough scores. We had opportunities and we needed to continue to close the gap and we didn’t make enough plays. We didn’t start fast and we didn’t end fast.”
The Packers’ defense, playing without linebacker Clay Matthews for the third consecutive game, struggled to slow down a Tennessee offense that scored on its first four possessions.
DeMarco Murray rushed for 75 of his 123 yards on his first carry to get the Titans on the board early, while tight end Delanie Walker recorded a 100 of his 124 receiving yards in the first half.
When the Packers managed to get a stop on Tennessee’s fifth possession in the second quarter, a muffed punt return gave the Titans the ball back at the Green Bay 12.
The Titans then scored on a Kendell Wright’s 6-yard touchdown to stake themselves to a 35-16 halftime lead.
“They just executed and we didn’t today,” defensive back Micah Hyde said. “I think miscommunication, the big plays we gave up – good football teams don’t do that. We made them look good, but at the same time they earned a lot of what they got.”
Neither unit wilted with the defense forcing a three-and-out to start the second half, which led to the offense engineering a 10-play, 78-yard series capped by a 20-yard touchdown run by Aaron Rodgers.
Nelson, who finished with a career-high 12 catches for 126 yards, said the team took a lot of pride in trying to find a way to stay in the game even when it was behind 21-0 at the start.
To a man, the players in the Packers’ locker room said they have confidence the team will figure out the reasons behind the recent lapses in all three phases.
“Just work. There’s nothing else,” Nelson said. “You’re not going to go into the stadium tomorrow and all of a sudden it’ll be turning a switch on and it’ll be done. It’s all about working. If you put in the time and put in the work and continue to grind at it, that’s all you can handle. You just handle what you can control.”
With Minnesota’s loss to Washington, the Packers remain only one game behind the Vikings and Detroit for first place in the NFC North with matchups against both teams still on the slate.
“It’s definitely not where we thought we would be or want to be, but you have to bounce back from it,” receiver Davante Adams said. “We have to figure out what’s going on and correct it. We can’t sit here and cry over spilt milk. It is what it is.”
The Packers’ three-game road trip continues next week when they travel to Washington to face a hungry team that’s now 5-3-1 after starting the season 0-2.
“We have to find a win,” Hyde said. “I know I say this a lot and I genuinely mean it. I have 100 percent faith in every guy in this locker room. I appreciate the guy to my left and my right, the guy across the ball. We’re a below .500 football team and we have to come out next week and try to get a win.”
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