There are a few sports moments in my life that I still don’t like to talk about. I still cannot listen to the Foo Fighters song My Hero because that is what my high school baseball team took the field to every home game my junior year. That year we were 33-0 (and had won 58 in a row) heading into a single elimination game to get to the double elimination state tournament, and trust me when I say that there wasn’t a team in the state that year that could have beaten us twice. Well you have probably already figured out at this point that we lost that game 4-3 (they scored all of 3 of their 4 runs in an inning where they got one base hit...but anyway).
That’s the most heartbreaking thing that has ever happened to me around a sporting event. The second is the Titans 2000 AFC Wild Card playoff loss to the Ravens. The Titans were clearly the best team in the league that year, but we all know how it ended- with a devastating loss to the Ravens.
One of the reasons they lost that game was because of Al Del Greco’s inability to make a field goal. He was 1 for 4. He missed from 45, 31 and 37. To be fair, the ones from 45 and 37 were blocked (the one from 37 was also returned for a touchdown), but Del Greco go back and watch those field goal attempts and tell me who’s to blame.
Sorry, not the point of this post...still not over it.
Anyway, the Titans special teams unit graded out very well that year overall according to Pro Football Outsiders (ESPN In$ider). In fact, it was the 29th best special teams unit of all time per their metric. From the article:
Kicker Al Del Greco was almost exactly average on both field goals and kickoffs, but the Titans got a strong year from punter Craig Hentrich, and Derrick Mason was elected to the Pro Bowl for kickoff returns and punt returns.
My Ravens-induced hatred for Mason sometimes makes me forget how good he was that year. He set the then record for all-purpose yards in a season with 2,690 (Darren Sproles broke that record with 2,696 in 2011). That team doesn’t get anywhere close to 13 wins without Mason constantly setting them up in positive field position situations.