Titans win first AFC South title since 2008
It seemed like the Tennessee Titans were going to cruise to an AFC South title with 4:29 remaining in the third quarter and with a 31-15 lead.
Ryan Tannehill had just scampered in for his second touchdown of the day, Derrick Henry already had 200 yards rushing, and the Titans defense was holding tough against Deshaun Watson and a depleted Texans offense.
In a season — a year, really — where everything was made more difficult than necessary, the Titans spent the next nine minutes of the game letting their lead unravel. Deshaun Watson and Brandin Cooks took the game over for Houston, who scored three consecutive touchdowns to take a 34-31 lead with ten minutes remaining.
This furious Texans comeback needed to happen, really. The Titans could not simply jog into the playoffs on the backs of what should’ve been a win in which the offense performed up to standard and the defense showed a glimpse of improvement against a fantastic quarterback.
No, this division title needed to be clinched by the group — the sole group — that dragged them to this point. The offense.
You know, guys like the incomparable Derrick Henry. He rushed for a career-high 250 yards and 2 touchdowns, cementing himself in history along the way with a 2,027 yard rushing season.
Guys like Ryan Tannehill. The leader of the most high-powered offense in Titans history, who dazzled as much with his legs as he did with his arm. Tannehill was composed and collected while clinching his 38th, 39th, and 40th touchdowns of the season.
And guys like AJ Brown. Already the best Titans receiver ever after just his second year, Brown played through the pain and hauled in 10 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. Both he and Tannehill saved their best play for last, linking up on a 52-yard bomb to set up the game-winning field goal with under 10 seconds to play.
All this offense needed was a favorable doink off the right upright from their back-up kicker Sam Sloman (certainly the newest resident in Titans folklore) to make it official.
The Tennessee Titans are the 2020 AFC South division champions.
The best offense you and I have ever seen in two-tone blue. Uber talented, well-coached, and, more often than not, dominant.
And what’s not to love about that? This group produced 5 games of 40+ points. A 2,000-yard rusher. A 3,800 yard, 33 passing touchdown quarterback. A 1,000-yard receiver with another one that was just 16 yards away from joining him. An offensive line that showed grit, depth, and consistency all season.
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But it sure has been fun watching this group play football for the last four months. They’ll get a chance to make a run at the Super Bowl, with their first test Sunday afternoon against the Baltimore Ravens.
Baltimore will certainly be looking for revenge after the Titans eliminated them from last year’s playoffs and defeated them earlier this season. The Titans’ offense left the Ravens battered and bruised in both match-ups.
That’ll be the recipe for any playoff success this month. Leaning on this thrilling offense to control the game, out-physical opponents, and throw haymakers in the closing moments like they did yesterday.
And when in doubt, give the ball to Derrick Henry.