Leading up to the Tennessee Titans’ big game against the Baltimore Ravens, a lot of the talk swirled around the recent stretch of play from the Titans instead of the big opportunity at hand.
Sitting outside of a wild card spot in the AFC playoff field, the Titans needed a win to keep up in this crowded AFC playoff race. More than a handful of teams in the AFC came into week 11 with at least 6 wins, putting them all squarely in the mix for one of the 3 wild card spots available in the conference.
Tennessee and Baltimore were 2 of those handful of teams, and a win today by either team would put them in a good position to secure a playoff spot barring something unexpected.
For the Titans, the playoff talk was important, but the more significant topic on their minds was finding a way to start playing good team football again.
Before today, they had lost 3 out of their last 4, including a devastating loss to the Colts in which the team simply imploded on defense and special teams in the 3rd quarter. They needed a win to feel good about their selves again, a win to gain that confidence that so many winning teams possess once they get into January.
Luckily for the Titans, they ended up getting that win by a score of 30-24.
But while it counts as a win in the books, it was by no means a pretty one.
The Titans still didn’t put in a convincing performance on defense. From getting gashed on 1st and 2nd down by JK Dobbins alone, to getting carved up in the middle of the field on passing downs, life was pretty easy for Lamar Jackson and that Ravens offense all game long.
Offensively, it wasn’t a pretty day either.
After scoring a quick 7 on their first drive, the Titans’ offense went through a period where they failed to consistently put points on the board. Ryan Tannehill threw a bad interception, Arthur Smith killed a drive himself by getting too cute on virtually a goal to go situation, it just wasn’t looking too good early on for this struggling offensive unit.
— TreJean Watkins (@TreWatkins099) November 22, 2020
But like almost every single close win by the Titans this season, a certain switch flipped in the second half. Both sides of the ball started to click in all aspects of the game, particularly on offense, which found it’s footing once the run game started to warm itself up.
It was almost like a bear had been poked, and it then immediately went on a rampage until all its work was done.
A fitting metaphor considering Derrick Henry, who some would compare his impact to the likes of a bear’s rampage, led the offensive resurgence in the second half.
Wouldn’t you agree?
All in all, this win gave us a stern reminder about this football team.
You can never ever count this football team out, there’s too much talent, and the culture surrounding this team just doesn’t allow any sort of waving of the white flag. You wouldn’t be able to get this far as a contender and as a team without possessing that sort of mindset, and the results of possessing it were on full display today.
Getting back to the playoff talk, the Titans aren’t dead whatsoever.
They still have a great shot at winning the division, let alone securing a wild card spot in the AFC. Matchups against the Colts and Browns, 2 teams that are competing with the Titans for playoff related reasons, still remain on tap for Tennessee.
This Titans team isn’t perfect, far from perfect by any means.
But if they put together some of those 2nd half performances like today, and translate them into complete team performances as we get closer towards the end of the regular season, then we’ll be able to start talking about this team as a respectable threat in this conference full of exceptional talent.
That talk will have to be put on hold though, at least until we start to see some consistency from both sides of the ball.