The Tennessee Titans will have to accept a 9-7 season and second place in the AFC South as progress, as their playoff hopes have been snuffed out.
The Cincinnati Bengals won the final AFC berth and will play in Houston against the Texans next weekend as a wild card facing the No. 3 seed.
The Denver Broncos’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs knocked the Titans out and locked the Bengals in.
The Titans have several games they can look back on that ultimately cost them a shot to be in the postseason in Mike Munchak’s first season as their coach.
They lost the season opener in Jacksonville by 2 points, lost a home game against Cincinnati by a touchdown, dropped a 6-point game at Atlanta, missed a chance to upset New Orleans in Nashville and played terribly in Indianapolis, serving as the Colts’ first victim of the season.
Tip any one of those the other direction and Sunday’s game at Houston could have ensured they’d keep on playing.
Somewhere at 30,000 feet between Houston and Nashville they are lamenting their fate, but know it’s nobody’s fault but their own.
And in time, given their deficiencies, the season may come to be regarded as a success at the start of the Munchak regime.
But that’s hardly soothing to anyone with a vested interest, or a rooting interest, in them now.
Update, 7:58 p.m.: The Titans sent out this statement from Munchak: "I was proud of the guys for bouncing back the last two weeks and putting ourselves in the position to reach the playoffs, but we also put ourselves in the position of needing help and it didn't work out for us today."