Dec 1, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown (31) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats Tennessee 22-14. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Entering Sunday’s game, the Tennessee Titans were prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts in a, for lack of better terms, a must-win game to keep playoff hopes alive. The Titans and Colts fought in a closely contested game, but the Colts showed their relentlessness and why they are the dominant AFC South team, yet again, with a 22-14 victory.
This post isn’t a game recap. I’m sure one of my fellow staff writers will provide a thorough recap. Instead, I want to cover how the Titans have lost five games this year by one possession, meaning eight points or less. I hate to go from praising the Titans and pounding my chest about their performance and then throwing anyone and everyone under the bus that I can, but that is the difference between elite teams and non-elite teams: winning the close, hard games that require true grit.
Our team has showed true grit but not as often as it is required in this league.
I’ll spare everyone from the “could’ve, should’ve” junk. Moving forward, Tennessee must play 60 minutes of football. Too often we start off slow and find our team playing catch up or we start off fast and then lose too much steam to close out the game.
I heard once in order for your team to be truly successful you need to build it to win the division first. We clearly haven’t been able to do that for quite some time. Playing in the AFC South we really are fortunate to get to call the Jacksonville Jaguars a division opponent, but recent history shows we can’t even count on beating them. In a year where the Colts have shuttered and shown vulnerability we really had a chance to “steal” the division this year. The Houston Texans took about five steps backward between injuries and under performing and the Jaguars are doing what the Jaguars do best: win about 3 games.
Truth-be-told, for the Titans to have been sitting at 5-6 and be in the playoff conversation is somewhat of an insult to the AFC.
I live 30 miles south of Cleveland, Ohio. As much as people make jokes about the Cleveland Browns, our Titans are one step ahead of them. The Browns play in a tougher division by having to face the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals twice a year. Despite that, Cleveland has a completely new coaching regime, have cycled through three different starting quarterbacks and running backs, and play in a tougher division. Yet, they have just one less win than us. Unacceptable.
The Titans win enough games to not get good draft picks but lose enough to not make the playoffs. We truly had a chance to show the Colts we weren’t laying down and that they didn’t “own” the division. After today’s loss, the Colts improved to 4-0 against the Titans under the Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck combo.
Today’s loss puts me at a loss for words. The unnecessary roughness penalty right before halftime that gave the Colts an extra 15 yards to put Adam Vinatieri in field goal range is unacceptable. The Titans have enough problems with trying to win games and giving teams like the Colts free points and opportunities cannot be tolerated.
The season is not over, but I’m not going to pretend and act like we have a legitimate chance of postseason hopes. The Titans fly to Denver next week to take on one of the league’s best teams in the Denver Broncos. It just so happens that their quarterback is used to thumping the Titans twice a year.
Looking forward, I hope the Titans put up a fight against the Broncos. The one bright side to our Titans team is a much improved defense. We have a fast and scrappy defense that can harass the quarterback. They must attack Peyton Manning and make him uncomfortable. The teams that have had success against the Broncos fluster Manning by putting pressure on him and make his pocket collapse.
With almost another season in the books we are looking at a best-case scenario of an 8-8 season which will keep us right on pace to keep the mediocre tag we wear so well.