“On any given Sunday, any team in our league can beat any other team.” – Bert Bell, NFL Commissioner (1945-59).
True words. Since the 1961-62 NFL season, only two teams have completed imperfect seasons (winless records) during non strike-shortened seasons. One of those came from an expansion team (1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers). The other came from the 2008-09 Detroit Lions. The Lions are the only team to claim anti-perfection with a 16-game schedule.
Tennessee Titans enthusiasts have become far too familiar with the above quote. Just consider the last two seasons. Two of the Titans’ defeats came against a 0-13 Indianapolis Colts team (2011) and a 1-9 Jacksonville Jaguars team (2012). Both opponents finished their seasons with 2-14 records.
These types of losses happen. That doesn’t make it okay. After the Titans lost to the 0-13 Colts, they finished the 2011-12 season with two consecutive wins. That was good enough for a 9-7 record. Unfortunately, the 9-7 Cincinnati Bengals owned a head-to-head tiebreaker for the last AFC wild-card playoff berth. That hiccup against the Colts eventually became the choke that kept the Titans out of the playoffs.
Almost as frustrating as that Colts loss was a setback against a 1-9 Jaguars team. The Titans were coming off a bye week and a 37-3 win against the Miami Dolphins. With two weeks to prepare and a 4-6 record, the Titans had no excuses and plenty of motivation to wreak havoc on a team whose only win came on a desperation 80-yard touchdown pass toward the end of regulation.
The Titans lost 24-19. This dropped their record to 4-7. That killed any momentum that they had created for a late-season playoff run. Had the Titans won, they would’ve had a 5-6 record with back-to-back AFC South matchups against the Houston Texans and Colts.
Remember how the Mike Munchak era started? During the 2011-12 season, the Titans lost a Week 1 game to a Luke McCown-led Jaguars team. For McCown, that was his last win—and second-to-last appearance—as a starting quarterback. The Jaguars went on to lose their next five games.
Do the Titans transform into vegans before these divisional road games? One thing is for certain: they weren’t “cupcakeitarians.” For the Colts, that image with the “W” meant “win.” For the Titans, that wasn’t a “W,” it was a “Double U”… Utterly UNACCEPTABLE.
Those are must-win games, especially when one considers that they’re against divisional foes. This roster had and has too much talent for such tragedies. Those kinds of losses can lead to avalanche effects and tarnish seasons. What might have been had the Titans just defeated a 0-13 team or a quarterback who has an all-time 2-7 record as a starter?. Get into the playoffs and anything can happen.
End these travesties—one week at a time.