The Tennessee Titans Week 13 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts was easily one of the weirdest, wackiest games of 2023.
What started off as a vintage first-half performance from Derrick Henry escalated into pure chaos as just about everything went wrong for Mike Vrabel and crew in the second half. A sign of what was to come came when the game was knotted at seven apiece.
Tennessee was mounting a drive nearing opposing territory when, on 3rd and 10 at the Titans 40, Levis threw a wobbler while being hit, which floated downfield into the arms of Colts safety Julian Blackmon (officially it was a fumble). As Blackmon began his return, however, Levis sprinted downfield and did his best impression of Peanut Tillman on a highlight-reel-worthy punchout and recovery, securing the football for the Titans.
This would be just about the only crazy event that would go Tennessee’s way Sunday.
With the Titans up 17-16 on their second possession of the second half, no longer could they lean on Henry who was forced out of the game due to a potential concussion. Ultimately, Indy forced a quick three-and-out to get the ball back, so Vrabel sent out the punting unit. What should have been a routine play turned into an absolute nightmare.
As Stonehouse fielded the snap, Colts rusher Nick Cross went entirely untouched, resulting in a blocked punt returned for a touchdown.
If that wasn’t weird enough, Indy attempted a two-point conversion on the following play, which ricocheted off the hands of RB Zack Moss into the waiting arms of Amani Hooker, who returned it 99 yards for the ever-elusive pick-two.
When he dust settled, the Tennessee Titans got the ball back down 22-19, and once again the possession resulted in a three-and-out. But when Stonehouse lined up to boot it this time, as improbable as it sounds, another rusher ran completely untouched for the block, setting the Colts up on the Tennessee seven-yard-line. Meanwhile, Ryan Stonehouse writhed in pain and did not get up after suffering an injury that ended his season.
This marked the first time since 2020, over 3 years, that a team has had two punts blocked in the same game (technically it will go down as a fumble by Stonehouse, but it was a blocked punt for all intents and purposes) . Over the last two years the Tennessee Titans have continued to invent new ways to lose football games.
Back to the game where the defense stood tall after the "second blocked punt" and forced a field goal. With one chance left to win the game, rookie QB Will Levis conjured an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 25 before the extra point.
Out trots Ryan Tannehill to replace Ryan Stonehouse as the placeholder, and predictably the kick goes wide.
After a series of punts, the game would go to overtime, and while the Tennessee Titans got the ball first and made a field goal, they ran out of gas just on defense and lost 31-28.
On a day when the offensive line played better, Levis passed for 224 and a touchdown with no interceptions, Henry ran for over 100 yards and two touchdowns in a little over two quarters, and the defense got four redzone stops, it still wasn’t enough to win the game.
And that’s been the story of Tennessee’s season so far. With five one-score losses, the team just doesn’t have enough talent, and they aren’t coached well enough.
In the post-game press conference, Vrabel took all of the blame for what had happened, but Craig Aukerman was the one fired Monday morning. Any Tennessee Titans fan will tell you it was one of the worst special teams performances in recent memory.
With one of, if not the hardest remaining schedules in the league, the Tennessee Titans are staring down the barrel of a four-win season. A team that’s long been drifting away is now officially lost at sea as the sun sets on this season to forget.