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No rhythm on offense, too many missed tackles on defense as Titans lose 26-10 to Cowboys

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The Tennessee Titans know they only have themselves to blame after having to listen to fans chant "Let's go Cowboys" during their home opener.

Jake Locker was intercepted twice, and the Titans couldn't stay on the field in the first half. Then they turned over the ball on downs in the fourth quarter with a chance to rally and lost 26-10 Sunday to Dallas.

"We all had breakdowns," Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We had dropped balls. We had missed tackles. Those are things we haven't done."

The Titans were coming home after an opening win at Kansas City, hoping to build momentum for their first-year coach. A win would have given the Titans their first 2-0 start since winning the first 10 games of 2008. But this franchise hasn't been back to the playoffs since, and Whisenhunt is the third coach in that span.

DeMarco Murray ran for 167 yards and a touchdown, Dan Bailey kicked four field goals, Locker was sacked twice, and the Cowboys turned his two interceptions into 10 points. Tony Romo easily shook off his three interceptions in the opening loss to San Francisco. With Murray running so well, Romo was 19 of 29 for 176 yards and a TD.

"They did to us what we did to Kansas City last week," Whisenhunt said.

Dez Bryant had a 3-yard TD catch in a game where he went to the locker room after the opening drive to get his shoulder checked out. Murray lost a fumble for a second straight game but he topped 100 yards in the second quarter. He wound up averaging 5.8 yards a carry for the game.

"It's still early," Murray said. "We still have a lot of work to do. ... We're headed in the right way, though."

The Titans did little to slow the Cowboys, even with Jurrell Casey coming up with two of their four sacks. The visitors held the ball for 41 minutes, 11 seconds, and finished with a 368-314 edge in total offense, delighting their many fans who at one point chanted "Let's Go Cowboys" as Dallas ran out the clock.

"We can't have that," Titans safety Bernard Pollard said. "If we want our fans to be in tune, to have our back and to call this thing the 12th man, we can't play the way we are playing."

Even with linebacker Justin Durant out with an injured groin and cornerback Orlando Scandrick suspended, the Cowboys got some big stops in the second half.

PHOTO: Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) catches a pass as he is defended by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) on a 61-yard touchdown scoring play in the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) catches a pass as he is defended by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) on a 61-yard touchdown scoring play in the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Rolando McClain, who starred in college at Alabama, ended one Tennessee drive slipping his hand just underneath a Locker pass for an interception early in the fourth. He would have had a touchdown if not for an official whistling the play dead as an incompletion, which was overturned after a review.

The Cowboys also forced the Titans to turn it over on downs after facing first-and-goal at the Dallas 6 with 6:22 left.

The Titans could not have looked much worse for the first 30 minutes. Locker, who had a 111.4 passer rating in the opener, struggled missing receivers both too short and too high. He had only 26 yards with a passer rating of 7.6 at halftime.

After Barry Church intercepted a Locker pass, Murray ran four times and ran 40 yards and capped the drive by shoving the ball over the goal line on a 3-yard TD run for a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. Bailey added field goals of 48, 44 and 51 for a 16-0 halftime lead.

Tennessee finally got going scoring 10 points in the third quarter, including a 61-yard TD pass from Locker to Delanie Walker. The tight end bounced off Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne and outran defenders to the end zone for a 61-yard TD with 7:45 left. Locker finished 18 of 34 for 234 yards.

"We just dug ourselves too big a hole," Locker said.

Notes: Romo extended his streak with at least one TD pass to 30 games. ... Murray had his ninth 100-yard rushing game of his career and second straight to start this season. ... Titans CB Jason McCourty hurt his groin and missed the second half. Whisenhunt said he anticipates McCourty will be OK. ... Titans fell to 9-7 in home openers since 1999.


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