When your franchise quarterback coughs up four interceptions. …When your franchise quarterback gets put on his back five times in four quarters. … It had to remind the Titans of football’s version of Alice in Wonderland.
I don’t know who it was that stuck his head in the huddle and uttered: “We’re not in Nashville anymore, Toto.’’
Just when we thought the Titans were ready for prime time, the Pittsburgh Steelers brought them back to the real world.
It was a hard pill to swallow.
For 30 minutes of big boy football, the Titans hung in there Thursday night, trailing by 16-7. Then the second half door slapped them in their face.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota stood tall after the game and put all the blame on his back. That’s the kind of person he is.
But there was ample blame to go around. Fact is, the Titans weren’t in the same league with the Steelers.
Yes, they were 6-3 and tied at the top of the AFC South when they landed in the town of Terrible Towels. But the national spotlight was blinding. They made more mistakes than a drunk trying to walk a straight line and saying the alphabet backwards.
Offense. Defense. Special Teams. Coaching. All phases came back to the Music City hanging their heads in wonderment. It was enough material for all the songwriters in Tune Town to pen a No. 1 hit. They didn’t need to use the old, “I lost my wife, my car and my dog. I sure do miss Fido.’’
The AFC South is still the AFC South. Houston has lost its rookie franchise quarterback of the future for the rest of the season when Deshaun Watson ripped up a knee. Watson had earlier thrown four TD passes and ran for another against the Titans when the Texans hung 57 points on the two-tone blue.
Indianapolis put its Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck on the shelf for the season. Jacksonville has Blake Bortles at quarterback, but he has not set the world on fire. He is mainly known for the number of interceptions he has thrown.
If you don’t have a franchise quarterback in the NFL, there are going to be games like this.
Thursday night Marcus Mariota looked like he was back in high school. He and his teammates learned a lesson in Three Rivers, a lesson they should never forget.
Thankfully, the NFL game was played on a school night and the kiddos didn’t have to see the carnage.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.