The Titans were finally able to take care of business yesterday. They faced a second half deficit in a must win game, and they were able to turn it on when they really needed too. In my mind that was the first gut check the Titans have passed this season.
The first series yesterday was reminiscent of the days when Steve McNair and Mike Heimerdinger were in their prime together. Heimerdinger had a way of calling plays on the opening drive that worked every time and got McNair into the groove of the game. Norm Chow drew up a similar plan for Vince Young yesterday. Vince attempted 4 passes and completed 3 of them for 37 yards. LenDale White mixed in 4 carries for 23 yards as the Titans marched down the field for an opening touchdown.
The defense responded by forcing Brodie Croyle and the Chiefs into a three and out on their first drive. Crolyle passed on all 3 downs of the opening drive, and was only able to complete 1 of them which was a 3 yard gain to Kolby Smith. The Titans looked like they were on their way to an easy win at Arrowhead.
Instead, the Titans decided to make the game interesting and leave us wondering if the playoff hopes would die in Kansas City. The Chiefs took the ball 53 yards for a touchdown on their next possession. They had their own mix of rush and pass on along the way.
The Titans had their first 3 and out on the day on the ensuing drive. Luckily for the Titans, Eddie Drummond fumbled Craig Hentrich's punt and Vincent Fuller recovered on the Chiefs 21. The Chiefs defense responded by holding the Titans to a field goal off of the turnover.
On the Chiefs next drive, they made the Titans defense look like it did during the 3 game losing streak. The Titans just did not have any answers for the prolific arm of Croyle. He channeled the ghost of Len Dawson and led the Chiefs right down the field for a touchdown.
On that drive we were forced to remember how painful it is when Albert Haynesworth is not in the game. Haynesworth was apparently worse off yesterday than he had been the past 2 weeks. Jeff Fisher said after the game that it had a lot to do with the weather. Fat Albert just wasn't able to get the leg loosened up. There was a lot of speculation in the open game thread that Fat Albert was tanking it. I don't think that was the case, but those questions are exactly why he hasn't been given a long term deal.
It is obvious that the Titans need help on the defensive front. The Haynesworth contract situation has been talked about here until we are all blue in the face. The Titans are going to franchise him. There is no doubt about that at this point. The problem with that is he isn't going to be happy. We will probably be looking at a hold out that extends past training camp and maybe into the season.
Last year the Titans did not address the defensive line situation until late in the second day of the draft. They absolutely cannot afford to do that this season, even if Haynesworth is back and playing. He has proven throughout his career that he is going to miss time during a season. The Titans defense has proven that they cannot stop anyone when he does. I am not a general manager, but that makes it pretty obvious to me that they need some help at that position because you cannot afford to just give away 3 games a year.
Anyway, things were obviously not looking good at halftime. It would have been very interesting to be in the locker room to hear what was said. It was good to see the Titans come out and play like their playoff lives were on the line in the second half. The defense held the Chiefs to just 3 second half points. The Titans scored points on each of their second half possessions excluding the last one that ended the game, and just like that, the Titans were back in the playoff mix.
Vince ended the game with 191 yards and 2 touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and posted a QB rating of over 100. I really appreciate that because it keeps me from getting a poorly constructed email from the artist formally known as Joy Kat. Vince has struggled this season, but that can all be forgotten if he plays well over the next 2 weeks and leads the Titans to the playoffs.
Roydell Williams, who either has a great game or doesn't have a catch each week, had one of the biggest games of his career. He ended with 4 catches for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns. Included in those 94 yards were catches of 35, and 41 yards. Roydell has shown that he has the ability to be a guy that can stretch the field. He just needs to prove that he can do it on a more consistent basis. I would love to see a receiving core next season that included Justin Gage, Roydell and a big name free agent or first round draft pick receiver. Roydell and Gage are solid receivers, but they need a big play guy to be consistently productive.
Another topic of conversation during the open thread yesterday, which you should check out if you never have, was Michael Griffin and Dwayne Bowe. While there is no doubt that Bowe would be the Titans best receiver at this point; I am glad to have Griffin. He has an interception in each of the last 3 games. It is all about playmakers in the NFL, and Griffin is a playmaker. It was nice to see him bounce back from giving up the game tying TD to Antonio Gates last week.
The bad news from this game is that the Titans come away really banged up. Kevin Mawae, Ryan Fowler, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Haynesworth, Keith Bulluck, Nick Harper, and Benji Olson all missed some time yesterday. The good news on that front is that everyone was able to return except Mawae and Fowler. (Mawae still did the long snapping but did not return on offense) It will be interesting to see who practices and who doesn't on Wednesday.
This game was just the first in a series of 3 must win games. They proved they can rally when their backs against the wall. That is going to come in handy over the next 2 weeks.
LET'S GO BENGALS!!