Going into the Week 16 Matchup with Washington, Tennessee knew what had to be done. Their whole destiny wasn’t in their control, but a win kept their playoff aspirations alive. It may not have been pretty, but they got the win. The majority of the game seemed to go against Tennessee, culminating in Mariota going down with a stinger. Good teams find ways to win. While the score isn’t necessarily indicative of how the game played out, the Titans escaped with a win. Tennessee’s victory opened up a whole slew of scenarios going into week 17. Before we get to that, let’s talk about the Washington game.
Slow and Sloppy
For the entirety of the first half, the Titans looked slow, sloppy and overall just unmotivated. They were the Titans of the past, the ones that bow down in the face of adversity. Mariota was injured on a sack just before halftime, and it honestly seemed like the Titans were just going to mail it in. Blaine Gabbert came in to start the second half, and Tennessee couldn’t get anything going. Their first two drives resulted in 7 plays for 26 yards and two punts. They held the ball for only 3 minutes and 7 seconds during that span. Washington went down the field for an 11-play 64-yard drive to add a field goal to their lead, making it 13-9. The way Tennessee had played to this point, it really seemed like the game was out of reach.
Motivation and Momentum
Entering the fourth quarter, Tennessee was still down 13-12, and Washington had the ball. A steady dose of Adrian Peterson resulted in another long drive for Washingon. Washington added another field goal to go up 16-12 with just 8 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. With their backs against the wall, the Titans showed us they won’t quit.
Striking quickly, the Titans managed to take the lead. Blaine Gabbert led a 7-play 75-yard touchdown drive in just under 4 minutes. With a 19-16 lead, the Titans had newfound energy. On Washington’s next trip, Kevin Byard picked off Josh Johnson on a pass intended for Josh Doctson. While the Titans had a 3 and out, they left the Redskins with just 14 seconds on the clock, needed to gain 50+ yards to get into field goal range. On Washington’s second play, Malcolm Butler picked off the pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown as time expired. While many will criticize Butler’s decision to take it to the house, it was undoubtedly a statement that this defense won’t break. The Titans escaped 25 to 16.
With the Titans winning, and the Steelers losing, a Pandora’s box of opportunities appeared. The only thing the Titans can control is their game against Indianapolis. NBC moved this game to Sunday night as it will be the last regular season game of the NFL this year. The winning team will make the playoffs, sending the loser home with nothing to show for the season. Tennessee can be the 6 seed, 3 seed or even as high as the 2 seed thanks to a win over New England earlier in the year. In all scenarios, Tennessee has to beat Indianapolis. To achieve the 2 seed, Tennessee would also need Baltimore, Houston and New England to lose their games on Sunday. To get the 3 seed, Houston would need to lose, and Tennessee needs to win. Simply winning guarantees Tennessee the 6 seed, which is what we should be focusing on. Focus on what we can control and let the rest fall into place. #TitanUp