Sports

Titans looking to take their winning ways on the road

Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop (4) celebrates after kicking a 44-yard field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop (4) celebrates after kicking a 44-yard field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans are about to find out if their act plays as well on the road as well as it has at home.

The Titans are off to their best start since 2008 at 6-3, yet four of those wins have come at home, where they are 8-1 dating back to last season. Away from Nashville, the Titans are just 2-2 with losses on the road at Houston and at Miami.

Now they have a short turnaround with a visit to Pittsburgh (7-2) on Thursday night. It's the first of four road games over the next five weeks as Tennessee chases its first playoff berth since 2008.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Monday that recovery is the biggest challenge — not playing on the road — coming off a 24-20 win over Cincinnati.

"It's a short week for both teams, both teams will be well prepared in the short time, we've done this before," Mularkey said. "There's no mindset, guys have just got to take care of their body when they're not here to get ready for a short week."

But beating Pittsburgh would be a somewhat of a statement win.

Only two of their victories this season have come against teams currently with winning records: 37-16 at Jacksonville in Week 2 and a 33-27 win over Seattle in Week 3.

The Titans have some momentum with a four-game winning streak, the franchise's longest since winning five straight in 2009. The Titans, who led the NFL in scoring touchdowns in the red zone last season, have jumped from 31st in that category at their bye to 10th by converting on three chances inside the opponent's 20 in each of their past two games.

Mularkey said the improvement has been due to not making mistakes.

"Proof is in the tape that when we get all guys operating and doing their job efficiently, we're pretty effective, and not just in the red zone, I'm talking about putting drives together for scores," Mularkey said. "It's been very easy for us to teach off of game tape."

The three TDs inside the Cincinnati 20 were very impressive — including the game-winner with 36 seconds left — considering the Bengals lead the NFL in red zone defence .

"We've just got to continue to build off of that," Mariota said after the game. "Guys made a bunch of plays in there and when you're able to do that, when you're able to score in the red zone, it's huge momentum and it builds confidence."

That's what the young Titans still need with a chance to make a statement before a national television audience Thursday night. The Steelers are atop the AFC North, and Tennessee can finish off a sweep of that division with a win that would be much more impressive than whatever they might do in a visit to Indianapolis or trips to Arizona on Dec. 10 or San Francisco on Dec. 17.

Mularkey is keeping the Titans focused on the task at hand with a flight to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

"If we let that become a distraction, it can be, yes," Mularkey said. "This team's pretty mature and pretty good about handling different situations, and this won't be any different."

Notes: Mularkey said Mariota has a mild ankle sprain and a sore left shoulder. The team estimated Mariota as limited for a walk-through later Monday along with tight end Delanie Walker (wrist). LG Quinton Spain, who has missed two games with turf toe, was expected to practice fully.

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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