Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/Editor, TitansOnline.com
HOUSTON — After his final throw here on Sunday, Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger ended up on the turf at NRG Stadium, on his hands in knees.
He had the breath knocked out of him following a hit by Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
It was a scene that played out over and over again in a 20-6 loss to the Texans. Mettenberger was sacked seven times in the contest, and he was hit a whopping 14 times in all.
“That’s just ridiculous, seeing him have to get up from the ground so many times,’’ Titans running back Antonio Andrews said, shaking his head. “That really frustrates me.”
It was just part of another frustrating day for the Titans, who lost their sixth straight contest.
In Mettenberger’s second straight start this season in place of an injured Marcus Mariota, he was harassed all day by Texans defenders. Watt sacked him 2.5 times and hit him a nine times on his own, per the official game book. Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus sacked Mettenberger 3.5 times, and was credited with four hits.
Mettenberger took some blame for holding the ball took long on some occasions.
“The cliché, the internal clock, you have to have that especially with a pass rush like the Texans have,’’ Mettenberger said. “But at the same time you can’t dink and dunk, you have to be able to push the ball downfield.”
He admitted it’s tough to operate with players in his space, and in his face.
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Week 7 of 2015 Season: Titans at Texans
“It’s a hard game to begin with, that definitely makes it a lot harder,’’ he said. “We have to find a way to overcome that and deal with that adversity. We couldn’t figure out a way to get it going.”
Meanwhile, Titans tackle Taylor Lewanput a good deal of the blame on his shoulders.
“I need to play better,’’ said Lewan, who was beaten by Mercilus on several occasions. “I definitely played one of the worst games I have ever played in my entire life, and I need to fix that. The offensive line needs to take responsibility for their actions, and I need to take responsibility for mine.
“We played like (crap today), we need to play better. I need to play better.”
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said he’d need to watch the tape to see where the breakdowns came. But it was clear from the sideline the Titans had issues across the board up front.
It wasn’t just Lewan who struggled. At one point, the team pulled rookie right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi and replaced him with Jamon Meredith.
“I think they created some one-on-one matchups, and they won,’’ Whisenhunt said. “We tried a bunch of different things to try and counter that, but we lost matchups.
“… They had a good day. They won some one-on-one matchups. We obviously didn’t play well enough up front in those situations. You have to give them credit.”
Mettenberger completed 22-of-31 passes in the game, with no touchdowns and an interception.
The Titans went 1-of-12 (8 percent) on third down, which kept the Titans from getting into a rhythm on offense.
On the season, Mettenberger is 49-of-74 for 421 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions.
“Offensively, we just haven’t operated at the level we need to execute at, myself included,’’ Mettenberger said. “There’s a few throws I’d like to have back, but at the same time there’s a lot of good we can build on, we just have to get over the hump and hopefully guys will see that.”