Despite losing on Sunday the Titans actually hold the sixth seed in the AFC thanks to a Steelers loss to the Jets. All they have to do now is win at Houston in Week 17 and they’ll punch their ticket to the postseason for the second time in three seasons.
Even so, that game against the Saints came up frustratingly short, especially with the team’s 14-0 start in the first quarter. The Titans were outscored 38-14 the rest of the way, and a late second half rally was not enough as they lost their second straight matchup. As it is, their record against the NFC South finishes at 2-2.
So to return to the playoffs for good, Tennessee must get to a familiar series of numbers: 9-7. That’s the record they’ve finished with for each of the previous three seasons. That’s the record that continues to haunt Titans fans to this day. This time it feels more like a blessing after starting 2-4, but back-to-back squanders prevented the team from clinching a postseason birth earlier than later.
According to MCM’s own Mike Herndon, the Titans would become the second team in NFL history to finish four straight seasons with the same record (the 2012-15 Patriots went 12-4). It’s either 9-7 and playoffs, or 8-8 and go home. With this in mind, let’s take a look at three more things we’ve learned from Sunday’s loss in the home finale.
The Offensive Line Is Still A Huge Problem
Not a surprise to anyone who saw this game, but the pass protection got hosed by a Saints pass rush that is currently tied for third in sacks (49). On Sunday the Titans let Ryan Tannehill get sacked five times while getting hit six. With this in mind the team is four QB hits away from reaching 100 allowed on the season, which (obviously) isn’t a good thing at all.
We can discuss what the offseason plans for the offensive line are later, but with one week to go and the postseason on the line this has to clean up on the road against the Texans in a win-and-in situation.
Tennessee Vs. The World?
It’s hard to discuss the outcome of yesterday’s game without focusing on Chris Gardner-Johnson’s hit on Kalif Raymond in the fourth quarter. Gardner-Johnson, who’s having an excellent rookie season, supplied a hit to Raymond’s helmet by use of his shoulder. According to the NFL that’s illegal and should be penalized, but it wasn’t here.
Making this missed call all the more infuriating was that the announcing crew didn’t mention it once. Perhaps they assumed it was a clean hit, but it didn’t really look like it in this case. The ensuing fumble allowed the Saints to start from the Titans’ 25-yard line, where they put the game away for good on a Drew Brees touchdown to Michael Thomas.
No fan base is stranger to the agony of dealing with a poor officiating crew, and they’ve been especially spotty in 2019. Jerome Boger—the head official on Sunday—has a bad reputation with Titans fans, and yesterday’s game did more to hurt his cause than help it.
Ryan Tannehill Has Continued To Play Well
In spite of an offensive line that was getting owned all day and a defense that had the displeasure of facing Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Sean Payton, Ryan Tannehill had another solid outing, doing all he could to keep the Titans in this game. Still, he threw for 272 yards, 3 touchdowns and no picks, and if not for the aforementioned controversy could have had more.
Tannehill’s best throw of the day came on this late touchdown pass to Tajae Sharpe (his second on a day that also included 69 yards). The pass protection holds up initially and he’s afforded enough time to survey the end zone and find a tiny window for Sharpe. Before the pressure gets to him, he’s able to fit this in beautifully to his receiver.
With a game left, Tannehill has the Titans with the sixth seed and the brink of the playoffs. They just need to win one more, which would help out RT17’s case to stay in Nashville. He’s had his shortcomings in the past, and there have been grumblings as to whether he can sustain his success in 2020, but a strong finish/playoff birth would make it hard for the front office to move on from him.
Give us what you learned from Sunday’s game in the comment section below!