Defense takes blame for Sunday’s loss to Titans

Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers sits on the bench during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 28-21 loss to the Titans at the Edward Jones Dome.

Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers sits on the bench during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 28-21 loss to the Titans at the Edward Jones Dome. Photo by The Associated Press.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A week after stuffing the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch, the St. Louis Rams’ defense chased the Titans’ Chris Johnson all day.

Coach Jeff Fisher tried his best to ease the burden Monday, a day after the Rams (3-6) were victimized by Johnson’s best game of the season and allowed 198 yards rushing overall in a 28-21 loss to Tennessee.

Fisher noted the Titans were coming off a bye and the Rams were on short rest. Greg Zuerlein’s first missed field goal attempt inside the 50 of the season and a turnover deep in Titans territory, the coach added, were contributing factors.

Both teams committed two turnovers, making that a wash. So this was the “big picture.”

“There’s all kinds of things that happened in the game,” Fisher said. “With that being said, we had a close game.”

After the Rams lost their third in a row, some players showed their frustration. Defensive end William Hayes, among a group of ex-Titans that had considered it a really big game, bloodied his forearm shattering a mirror and needed a few stitches.

“Basically, he expressed how everybody felt and it hit him hard,” Fisher said. “This game was big for him. Use better judgment, you know, you don’t need to punch a mirror and risk cutting yourself, and he did.”

The Rams have invested heavily on defense, with four first-round picks, two high second-rounders, two major free agent pickups. They have a defensive coordinator this year, too, after using a committee to replace suspended Gregg Williams in Fisher’s first season.

They’re ninth-best in the NFL against the pass, masking their ineffectiveness against the run.

“The more they stack up, I think the more they hurt,” end Chris Long said. “Our defense had a chance to win the game and we were out of our gaps.”

The defense was dominant in a 14-9 Monday night loss to the Seahawks. Lynch had just 23 yards on eight carries and Seattle was 2-for-11 on third down, the lone breakdown of the day coming when Janoris Jenkins was in position but stumbled on Golden Tate’s 80-yard touchdown catch.

Johnson topped Seattle’s total by himself with 150 yards on 23 carries and his first two rushing touchdowns of the season. All four of the Titans’ TDs came on the ground, with Shonn Greene and quarterback Jake Locker each taking one in.

Fisher said there wasn’t a specific shortcoming, saying “it appeared that we took turns.”

It was the Titans’ best rushing showing since Nov. 27, 2011 when they had 202 yards against Tampa Bay. And a huge disappointment for the Rams defense after wasting a big day from rookie Zac Stacy, who scored the Rams’ first two rushing TDs of the year and totaled 178 yards rushing and receiving.

The Rams made plenty of plays on defense, with four sacks in the first half and interceptions by Cortland Finnegan and Rodney McLeod — the first of the year for both. They whiffed plenty of times, too.

Johnson busted a 23-yarder his first carry to start a drive capped by Greene’s 5-yard scoring run and had runs of 24 and 18 yards in the fourth before the clinching run. Greene had a 15-yarder in the third quarter,

“You set a benchmark and then you don’t meet it as a group,” Long said. “The frustrating thing is guys were ready to play, guys were mentally into it and jacked up for the game.

“It blows my mind.”

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