The Tennessee Titans got their first win since December 6 of last year. With a 16-15 win over the Detroit Lions today, the two-tone blue are looking to start a new era in Music City. After a 3-13 season last year and a 2-14 season the year before that, a win was a sigh of relief for a team looking to bounce back this season. Should this win cause hope for the Titans’ fan base?
The Titans needed a fourth quarter comeback to snag the victory. After a kick put the Lions up 15-3 with 1:03 left to go in the third quarter, the Titans decided to turn up the heat and answer with two touchdown scores in the final period. Quarterback Marcus Mariota wasted no time by finding tight end Delanie Walker in the end zone on a 30 yard pass with 14:54 in the fourth. This play left the Titans down 15-10 after a successful extra point by kicker Ryan Succop.
Later in the game with the score still the same, the Titans started a drive with 7:04 left in the game at their own 17 yard line. This was the drive that put the Titans up for good. Mariota led a drive that ended with wide receiver Andre Johnson making a phenomenal catch in traffic over the middle for the score. It must be pointed out that running back Demarco Murray made several plays throughout the drive that kept the Titans moving the chains. Leaving the Lions down 16-15 (after the Titans failed a two-point conversion attempt after the score) with 1:18 left to try and kick a game-winning field goal, a successful Titans defense thwarted the Lions’ last chance to win when cornerback Perrish Cox made a game-ending interception.
This was a victory that showed that the Titans do have the capability to grit out tough games. In recent years, the Titans have not been able to pull out the tough games very well. It also shows that the team really has a true game changer in Mariota. While Mariota was successful statistically last year when he played, he had trouble gritting out tough victories. With a new system in place, do the Titans now have the ability to win the tough games consistently?
That question is difficult to answer considering this is simply one game. However, with the new philosophy style that coach Mike Mularkey has put in the place, the Titans seem more mentally capable than ever. His “exotic smashmouth” style relies on execution and for the Titans to trust in their ability to win tough, close games. Especially exemplified by Demarco Murray’s running in this game, the Titans look to be fighting for extra yards and fighting hard in the trenches. With 145 total scrimmage yards and making many important plays throughout the game despite his slow start, Murray seems to be a great fit in Mularkey’s system and an example of what Mularkey expects out of his players. Look for hard-nosed players like Delanie Walker, Andre Johnson, and Murray to continue to be the ones making the big plays when they are needed for this up and coming Titans team. And expect Mariota to be the one putting the ball in their hands when the time is needed.
It may not have been the most beautiful victory. But that’s not what this team cares about. They simply needed to prove to themselves, their fans, and their league that they can win tough games. The next step for the Titans is to start faster, and not put themselves in big holes early. While they have shown they can compete, they have not shown they can control a whole game. Look for Mularkey to try and come out faster and with more confidence at the beginning of games.
So, reason to celebrate as a Titans fan? Sure. But don’t get too confident. The two-tone blue have not shown a capability to be a contending team consistently thus far. Yet, considering they are 1-1 and in second place in the AFC South Division, go ahead and celebrate a little.
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