Controlling your own destiny is really what you work for in the NFL. Hard work and practice goes into each season just to get a chance to crash the playoff party. Tennessee hadn’t made the postseason since 2008 but notably with four games remaining they held that ticket. All they had to do was win. Last time the Titans were sitting at 8 and 4 leading the AFC South.
Game 13 @ Arizona
This game could be categorized as a defensive slug fest or an offensive catastrophe depending on your point of view. The Titans got into Cardinal territory three times. A Derrick Henry 6-yard touchdown run capped the first one. A missed Ryan Succop field goal from 58 yards away ended the second foray. The final time ended at 1:56 left in the third with Tramon Williams intercepting Marcus Mariota at the Arizona 4-yard line. That’s it. The concern for Tennessee was running the football with only 65 yards on the ground. The Titans passing offense wasn’t any better held under 185 yards for the third consecutive week. Mariota threw more interceptions than touchdowns for the third time in the past four games. Despite a strong performance from the defense holding Arizona to 261 total yards Tennessee couldn’t get it done. Cardinals 12 Titans 7
Game 14 @ San Francisco
The Titans didn’t return to Nashville, choosing to prepare for the 49er’s out west. The offense had to play better than the previous week, right? Well…yes it was better. Mariota threw for two touchdowns and 241 yards with no interceptions. The Titans game running did give up one fumble yet churned out 82 yards. This was really a game of keep away. Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers had the ball over 5 minutes more than Tennessee. San Francisco had drives of 10, 12, and 18 plays that produced points. The Titans had a shot though because Mariota directed them from his own 25-yard line taking the lead on a Ryan Succop kick at the 1:12 mark. Garoppolo proved why his name is included as one of the hottest young quarterbacks in the league. Getting his team in range for a Robbie Gould game-winner. 49ers 25 Titans 23
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Game 15 Los Angeles Rams
The Titans still held an inside track to making the playoffs despite dropping two straight games. They would need help with the division from the Jaguars who were now two games ahead with two to play. The Titans would need to do their part and even at home that wouldn’t be easy against the NFC West leading Rams. Todd Gurley gashed the Titans for 118 yards on the ground and 158 yards receiving including two touchdown catches. It was too much despite 275 yards passing and a defensive touchdown by Wesley Woodyard the Titans hence dropped their third consecutive game in a close one. Rams 27 Titans 23
Game 16 Jacksonville
In what many thought would be a game for the AFC South title, the Titans had their backs to the wall. In the first quarter, niether team could cross mid-field. Early in the second Derrick Henry took a short pass on the left side and rolled 66 yards into the end zone. Jacksonville fought back and closed the gap on the ensuing drive with a Josh Lambo field goal. The teams played between the 20’s until the Jaguars made two big mistakes. First of all with two minutes to go in the half Jaydon Mickens muffed a punt that turned into a Ryan Succop field goal with 1:26 left in the half. The first play after the kickoff Adoree’ Jackson forces his team-leading third fumble of the year, recovered by Jayon Brown. That allows Succop to finish out the half with a 38-yard field goal. An exchange of punts started the second half. On the Titans second possession, Succop connected again to put the Titans up 15 to 3. Jacksonville closed the gap on a fumble recovery touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Titans came together and made plays when they had too. Mariota ran the ball on a key third down around the left side late in the game. Initially, it looked like he would be brought down short and the Titans forced to kick the ball back to the Jaguars. Not today, Mariota stiffed armed one would be tackler to the ground and would not be denied the first down. Titans 15 Jaguars 10
The Titans are in the playoffs! Not only getting in but due to Baltimore losing, getting the 5th seed and a date with the Kansas City Chiefs. We’ll pick up our season story next time at Arrowhead Stadium.