When the Tennessee Titans made the playoffs last season they did much more than just end an embarrassing nine-year playoff absence. A thrilling come from behind 22-21 win over the high-octane Kansas City Chiefs did more than end a three-game playoff losing streak. For the first time since 2008, the Titans finally had some real hope. There was a real feeling that this team could become something special. In honor of this, let’s take a look at the playoff history that paved the way for this euphoria. Unfortunately, the euphoria was momentarily leaked out of the room like air out of a balloon in the divisional round. The mighty Patriots ram-rodded the Titans 35-14. However, the excitement behind the team remains. Let’s look into the playoff history that helped get the Titans to where they are today.
Nashville was vibrating with excitement as their NFL franchise, the newly coined Tennessee Titans, were setting off in their inaugural season. The year was 1999. After a somewhat controversial move from Houston to Nashville, the Titans arrived on the NFL scene and looked to be a team of destiny. Coming off back to back 8-8 seasons under head coach Jeff Fisher, the Titans finished the ’99 season 13-3.
The Titans continued their march to football’s biggest stage with a thriller. A controversial, yet adrenaline pumping 22-16 win against the Buffalo Bills known as the “Music City Miracle” kept the season alive. Not even a young, upstart Peyton Manning could stop the Titans from pushing on as they squeaked by the Colts 19-16. The wheels really kept rolling with a 33-14 thumping of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Super Bowl XXXIV left football fans on the edge of their seats and Titans fans sobbing in their sheets all night. Titans receiver Kevin Dyson was only a few inches away from the potential game-tying touchdown but was tackled inside the 1. The St. Louis Rams with an offense coined “The Greatest Show on Turf” won 23-16. While the result was disappointing, the Titans had made their mark.
The following season was met with a similar buzz but the sting of the Super Bowl loss was still raw in the Music City. Once again, the Titans finished the regular season with a 13-3 record. Thoughts about a return trip to the Super Bowl were everywhere. However, Titans fans would be confronted with the harsh reality that Super Bowls were truly hard to make. The Baltimore Ravens would lay down the hammer with a 24-10 win and the 2000 season seemed to end too soon.
After missing the playoffs for the first time as the Tennessee Titans in 2001 things got back on track in 2002. 2002 was initially highlighted by the Titans leaving the AFC central to join the AFC South. After posting an 11-5 regular season record the Titans quickly shifted the focus back on their track record of success. The Titans won the AFC South in their inaugural year in the division. The Titans went up against the Steelers with a return trip to the Super Bowl channeling their focus. Their gritty resolve helped squeak out an overtime nail-biter against the Steelers 34-31. However, the mighty Oakland Raiders were standing in their way. The Raiders would prove to be too much of a task for the Titans as they fell in the AFC Championship game 41-24.
Making the playoffs in four out of five years, Titans fans should be getting used to this right? Well, 2003 would mark the beginning of the Titans downward trajectory. 2003 was a magical season for the Titans. After a 12-4 record and a second place finish in the division, long time Titans quarterback Steve McNair was voted league MVP. The Titans got revenge on the Ravens for the playoff loss a few years ago, winning 20-17. The march would end in the divisional round unfortunately with a 17-14 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. This would be the final playoff appearance of legendary Titans quarterback Steve McNair.
After a four year drought from the playoffs, the Titans were back! Tennessee finished the year with a 10-6 record and snuck into the wild card round, where the San Diego Chargers were waiting for them. Much like the last four years, this too would be a big flop. The Titans season ended with a disappointing 17-6 loss to the Chargers.
This was the season where everything was supposed to go right for the Titans. The talent was everywhere. Rookie running back Chris Johnson exploded on the scene and was lighting the league on fire. Unfortunately, Vince Young went down early in the season and ultimately lost the starting job to backup Kerry Collins. The Titans went 13-3 on the season, including a scalding hot 10-0 start. Unfortunately, in the divisional round, the Titans lost an all-out slobber-knocker of a game against…go figure… the Baltimore Ravens 13-10. This was the end of the Titans playoff appearances until last season.