Titans tumble from top of AFC South thanks to special teams

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans were let down by their special teams once again in a 34-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.

The Colts and Titans are now both 6-3, but Indianapolis owns the edge in the AFC South standings by virtue of the head-to-head win. The two teams meet again in Week 12.

Punter Trevor Daniel struggled in his first game with the Titans, starting with a 17-yard punt from Tennessee's 10-yard line. The Colts drove 27 yards in four plays and took a 20-17 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run by Nyheim Hines.

The Titans went three-and-out on their next drive only to have Daniel get his next punt blocked by E.J. Speed and returned 6 yards for a touchdown by T.J. Carrie to make the score 27-17. Daniel was elevated from the practice squad before the game to take over for Ryan Allen, who averaged 50.5 yards per punt in last week's 24-17 win over the Chicago Bears. The Titans' decision to go with Daniel was a puzzling move.

“It pretty much spoke for itself, them getting the ball where they did. They got inside the 30-yard line one time and they got it in the end zone the other,” Vrabel said of the Titans' punts.

The special-teams struggles went beyond the punting. Tennessee attempted to answer the blocked punt for a touchdown with a drive that covered 52 yards in 12 plays to set up a 44-yard field goal attempt by Stephen Gostkowski, but it was wide right.

Gostkowski now has eight missed field goals, the most in the NFL this season. He also has missed two extra points. The last Titans/Houston Oilers kicker to miss at least 10 kicks in a single season was Tony Zendejas, who missed 12 in 1989 for the Oilers.

“I think we’re going to have to evaluate everything that we do. We have to be better in all areas,” Vrabel said. “I have confidence in Craig [special-teams coach Craig Aukerman] and Ryan [special-teams assistant Ryan Crowe] and what they do. We’ll continue to hold people accountable and continue to improve. I thought that those guys, I’m very confident they know what they’re doing. I know what they coach, I’m in those meetings and there at practice. We will just keep working and making sure that we start playing better in that area and performing better.”

Describe the game in two words: Total meltdown. As mentioned earlier, the special teams failed miserably. The defense gave up 430 total yards of offense and the Titans' offense struggled outside of Derrick Henry, who gained 103 yards.

Promising trend: The Titans improved on their third-down defense, allowing the Colts to convert on only four of their 12 opportunities. That's much better than their NFL-worst 55.3% third-down conversions allowed. But the problem is that Indianapolis went for it five times on fourth down and picked up first downs on three of their attempts.

Eye-popping Next Gen Stat: QB Philip Rivers averaged 2.31 seconds from the snap before throwing the ball. That is his lowest of the season and fourth-lowest over the past five seasons. Rivers completed 22 of his 25 attempts for 199 yards when passing within 2.5 seconds of the snap.