A frustrating, nail biting, teeth clenching, gut wrenching, excruciating—and finally relieving—ending to one of the most bizarre wins in franchise history has kept the Titans season alive, improving their bleak yet inconsistent 2019 season with a 3-4 record.
On the final drive the Titans allowed two touchdowns that never were, and by some miracle the supposed scores from Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon were reversed by review, just inches short of glory. This team has already had its share of heartbreaking losses, so escaping on a Gordon fumble on the 1-yard line almost feels like this year’s version of the Music City Miracle. Almost.
With that said there was quite a bit to take after a 23-20 victory to earn the first home win of the season. For this article I’ve managed to come up with three things we all could learn from Sunday’s game.
Trust Ryan Tannehill (for now...)
Opinions varied on Marcus Mariota being benched for Ryan Tannehill; From fans suggesting nothing would change to those insisting he’d provide a spark Mariota could not, there was a lot of gossip about the QB position in Nashville leading into Week 7.
All things considered Tannehill had a strong performance against the Chargers. In spite of taking a couple of bad sacks (as opposed to.....taking good sacks?) his accuracy was sharp, and he was able to make a few plays on the run that really helped an offense that has largely struggled in 2019.
Most Titans fans are under the impression that Tannehill is a bridge to the next franchise quarterback, and that’s my impression as well. So we’ll see if he can continue to provide this quality of play or give Tennessee a reason to draft a quarterback, but at least this beats pondering where to go next after a heartbreaking loss.
Activating Jeffery Simmons Was Worth It
A torn ACL in February made it seem as if Jeffery Simmons would barely see the field of play in his rookie season. Incredibly, however, he recovered quickly enough to make his debut just before the end of the first half of the season, and it added a boost the defense sorely needed.
The rookie defensive tackle finished his NFL debut with 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 quarterback hit, and 2 tackles for loss, an extremely encouraging performance from someone not only playing in his first game, but also shaking off the rust from his ACL tear.
For Once, The Titans Were Lucky
Do not get the wrong idea; Being lucky is not a bad thing, especially if it helps you win games. For a team one yard away from facing 2-5 to suddenly finding themselves at 3-4, the ending to this game was beyond anything any of us could comprehend.
The Titans have been extremely inconsistent in the Mike Vrabel era. On good days they’re standing toe to toe with the Patriots, Eagles and Cowboys, and the next thing you know they’re getting creamed against a Broncos offense with Joe Flacco at quarterback. You never know what to expect from this roller coaster ride of a team, and Sunday’s victory leaves us more confused about the future of this season.
On a day where the defense had its worst performance of the season we also had guys like Logan Ryan and Wesley Woodyard making up for yards given up by making plays at the tail end of this game. Woodyard nearly allowed a game winning touchdown to Austin Ekeler (before it was overruled once it was revealed Ekeler was just short of the end zone) but made up for it by stripping the ball away from Melvin Gordon’s hands on the 1-yard line to seal a win for Tennessee.
Vrabel took a lot of heat for not challenging the spot on the QB sneak attempt from Tannehill on a 4th and 1 just before Los Angeles’ attempted game winning drive, even after victory was somehow assured. In addition to consistency, game management has been an issue for the second year Titans coach with this gaffe further infuriating the fan base.
At the end of the day, however, the Titans pulled through against a Chargers team with plenty of talent but also plenty of ways to lose games. They may have been lucky, but that’s better than being 2-5.