Sunday, December 22, 2013
For one Sunday, Titans fit the formula
By Paul Kuharsky
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- They were just about everything they want to be.
Sunday at EverBank Field, in a 20-16 win over Jacksonville, just about every ingredient the Tennessee Titans have been missing in 2013 showed up.
They fit their formula as they ran for 182 yards, as they made effective halftime adjustments, as they made key stops and collected a key turnover, as they asserted themselves for a key third-down conversion to milk the clock near the end.
Nate Washington's touchdown gave the Titans the lead in an encouraging performance by the team.
“The second half was finally how we want to play,” coach Mike Munchak said, acknowledging that it was far too little, too late in the big picture. “If you can do that, 180, 190 whatever the heck it was [we ran for], that’s the formula. Going forward, that’s what this team needs to be able to do, that’s what they’re built to do if we’re all healthy ...
“This is what you want to be able to do, this is what we will build into next season on, and this is the type of team you’re going to see.”
That second part, of course, presumes Munchak is retained as the team’s coach.
While a second loss to the Jaguars would have hurt his case, I'm not sure a win over them should help it much.
Put simply, the Titans currently have superior talent, if not a superior coach and GM. Put simply, it was a result that should be expected. Smartly and accurately, no one was lauding it as some sort of statement.
Still, it served as a relief and a breakthrough, and that says much about a franchise that won just its second game in its last 11 chances in the AFC South.
The Titans’ big rushing effort came against a team minus starting defensive tackle Roy Miller which then lost his replacement, Brandon Deaderick, to a first-half elbow injury. Recent practice-squad call-up Jordan Miller played from there.
The Titans won’t apologize, and shouldn’t apologize, for beating the Jaguars. That was the only thing they could do on this Sunday.
But mixed in with the happiness that came with the win was a recognition that they’ve blown similar situations all year long.
“We see that we can do it, but we ain’t done it all year long,” defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said, adding, “We know if we dig deep every week we can get the job done. We’ve just got to find out how we can get that done every week.”
“You always look back at those games that were nail-biters and understand you couldn’t close them out. You look at this game and say, ‘Wow, that was a team that could have closed out those other games.’”