JOE BIDDLE: Titans barely hold on

(Photo: WKRN)

The Titans escaped a second half come from behind effort led by Bears backup quarterback Matt Barkley Sunday.

Matt Who?

He’s a well-traveled backup quarterback from Southern Cal. He started the game looking to throw his first career NFL touchdown after being dropped by two teams before the Bears acquired him.

Barkley made it too close for comfort. He put the Bears on the scoreboard first, but the Titans scored 27 consecutive points to get the win.

Yes, the Titans held on for a 27-21 win over a 2-9 Bears team.

“”We let them hang around,’’ Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said. “They deserve a lot of credit for what happened. We were very fortunate to win the game.’’

Barkley made up for lost time in the second half, when the Bears outscored the Titans, 14-6.

He had at least six catchable passes dropped, including one that would have tied the game late in the fourth quarter.

Two Bears wide receivers, Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson, dropped Barkley passes that if caught would have been touchdowns.

“We had a lot of different guys out there,’’ Bears Coach John Fox said. “There were good catches as well as drops. We had one guy that was playing his second game this season.’’

Former Titans assistant coach and now the Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said for the lack of time Barkley has had in the Bears system, he couldn’t ask much more.

“We pay attention to how he does on the practice squad, how he practices. We’re excited to see what he does with us in another week. Matt understands the game plan this week. Some things he’s repping for the first time this week. I thought he had poise in the pocket.’’

If I were Barkley, I would sue the Bears receivers for non-support.

A number of Barkley’s passes bounced off would-be receivers chests, arms and hands. He would have done better if he had been throwing to Allstate insurance agents. At least they have good hands.

It became obvious the Bears and Barkley were zeroing in on Titans cornerbacks Perrish Cox and Jason McCourty.

I would advise General Manager Jon Robinson to replace both of them before they undo the good this team has established. If they are starters next season, I will be shocked. I’ll be stunned if they are starters for the final four games this season.

Cox was a fifth round pick and signed after four previous seasons with the Broncos, Seahawks and 49ers. Those are clear signs he is nowhere near a starter in this league.

McCourty is in his eighth year, a 2009 Titans sixth round pick. So the Titans’ starting cornerbacks are fifth and sixth round draft picks. That speaks volumes about their ability.

Barkley was 28 of 54 for 316 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

If Barkley can pick the Titans’ secondary apart, the Titans final four teams’ quarterbacks will be drooling when they watch tapes of the second half against the Bears.

The Bears had 411 offensive yards compared to the Titans’ 375. Chicago made 25 first downs, the Titans 18.

The Titans built a 21-7 halftime lead, added field goals in the third and fourth quarters and looked as if their defense was sleep walking to the finish line.

Once again the Titans had to rely on the offense to carry their water.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota once again played winning football. He was 15 of 23 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Rookie running back Derrick Henry pitched in with an 11-yard touchdown run. The Alabama product had five carries for 46 yards including a 17-yard run.

“That’s all you want this time of year,’’ Mariota said after the game that evened the Titans record at 6-6. “It’s an opportunity to make a run at the Division title and playoffs.’’

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at