Those are some questions that Titan Sized contributors have addressed over the days following the Seahawks’ 43-8 championship victory. It’s fun to compare one’s favorite team to the team who has reached the top of the mountain. Social media manager Krystle Vermes pointed this out with a tweet from Titans outside linebacker Zach Brown:
This not even a game we played Seahawks better #Titanup
— Zach Brown (@ZachBrown_55) February 3, 2014
Truth. Then again, so did everybody else. Even the lowly Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed to force overtime with the champions. The Buccaneers accomplished that on Seattle’s 12th Man home field.
That brings us to Week 6: Titans 13 at Seahawks 20. The Titans had a 10-7 halftime lead. At the end of Quarter 3, the game was tied at 10. The Titans’ only touchdown came on Jason McCourty‘s 77-yard muffed field-goal return right before the end of the first half. The Seahawks pulled away when Ryan Fitzpatrick made an ill-advised pass that Richard Sherman intercepted. A few plays later against an exhausted defense, the Seahawks scored the go-ahead touchdown.
How did Tennessee fare against other playoff teams? The Titans faced both Super Bowl representatives and three of the four conference championship representatives from the 2013 playoffs. The Titans faced five of the six AFC playoff teams during regular-season play. Below are the results:
Opponent (Playoff Fate): Regular-Season Result vs Titans
Seattle Seahawks (Super Bowl XLVIII champion): 20-13 LOSS
Denver Broncos (2013 AFC champion): 51-28 LOSS
San Francisco 49ers (2013 NFC Runner-Up): 31-17 LOSS
San Diego Chargers (2013 AFC Divisional Exit): 20-17 WIN
Indianapolis Colts (2013 AFC Divisional Exit): 30-27 LOSS
Indianapolis Colts (2013 AFC Divisional Exit): 22-14 LOSS
Kansas City Chiefs (2013 AFC Wild-Card Exit): 26-17 LOSS
“Be a pro,
finish do your job.” Way too many “almosts” on that list. Even in that 23-point loss to Denver, the Titans had a halftime lead. Then Matt Prater made his 64-yard field goal, Chris Johnson had a key fumble, and the defense fell apart. The Broncos finished that game on a 41-7 run. Much like the Seahawks’ 43-8 run during Super Bowl XLVIII.
The Titans were 1-6 against teams who eventually clinched playoff berths. It was a reoccurring trend that lasted throughout the entire Mike Munchak era. This team rarely defeated teams who finished the season with winning records (3-20 last three seasons). They could play with almost anybody. Once adversity sets in? Here we go again…
Is a brand new coaching staff enough to help get this team to turn those “almosts” into “wins?” Ken Whisenhunt and his staff need to get a lot more out of his players. This team has talent but not like Seattle. Furthermore, Tennessee’s quarterback situation is far more uncertain. Either Jake Locker improves his durability or the team will focus on finding his replacement.
First thing’s first: this team must get back to the playoffs. Jan. 2009 was the last time this franchise experienced postseason football. Jan. 2004 was the last time they won a playoff game. The AFC South isn’t a world-beater division; Tennessee must take advantage of it.
Get in the playoffs? Anything can happen. Anyone can get hot. The 2010 Green Bay Packers and 2013 Seattle Seahawks have proven that young, inexperienced postseason teams can come out on top of championship races.