MIAMI (Reuters) - A week after owner Bud Adams gave a strongly worded warning to the Tennessee Titans, Mike Munchak’s team responded in perfect fashion with an impressive 37-3 win at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
The defeat puts a severe dent in Miami’s hopes of making the playoffs as they slip to 4-5 in the AFC East after a woeful performance.
Adams had responded angrily to last week’s 51-20 home loss to the Chicago Bears, warning that “all aspects of the organization will be closely evaluated.”
The words certainly gained a response, even if Munchak insisted the team knew they had fallen well below their own standards.
“We were already upset, no-one had to tell us how they felt. I think it’s a matter of us having a good week of work, concentrating and coming back and playing much better,” he said.
“Only the team can dig ourselves out of the hole. It was only one game but we needed this one.”
Jake Locker returned as starting quarterback for the Titans after more than a month out with injury and after a rusty start, he led his team to a convincing victory that never looked in doubt.
A nine-yard pass to Kendall Wright put the Titans on their way before running back Chris Johnson produced a great cutback as he rushed 17 yards into the end zone to make it 14-0.
It got worse for Miami in the second quarter when rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s attempted pass was tipped by Akeem Ayers and linebacker Colin McCarthy grabbed the interception and returned the ball 49 yards for a score.
Tannehill, who had gone six weeks without throwing a pick, threw three interceptions but he was by no means the only Miami player out of sorts.
“I‘m embarrassed by the way we played. I didn’t play well and we didn’t play well as a team,” Tannehill after the Dolphins suffered their worst home loss since 1968.
“Obviously it is frustrating when you can’t get anything going and you’re turning the ball over”.
The Titans’ Jared Cook collected on a 26-yard Locker pass in the third quarter and two Rob Bironas field goals in the fourth completed the rout.
Titans running back Johnson put up 126 yards, the first time after 22 games that the Dolphins allowed a player over 100 rushing yards.
Miami’s troubles were evident from head coach Joe Philbin benching two normally key players for spells during the game.
Running back Reggie Bush was left on the sidelines for most of the game after an early fumble while guard Richie Incognito was reprimanded after a costly penalty for unnecessary roughness.
“I didn’t really see this coming,” said Philbin, who said he felt the team were well prepared for the game.
”It appears that we don’t play great run defense at the present time. It appears that we’re not very good at third down on offense.
“We’re not in the position where we can have a lot of negative plays or giveaways or a bunch of penalties. It’s not a good formula for us,” he said.
Reporting By Simon Evans; Editing by Gene Cherry