The Tennessee Titans that defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 are certainly not the “same old Titans.”

The “same old Titans” would not have been able to overcome a lost fumble on the first play of the game and a subsequent quick-strike touchdown by the Colts. They wouldn’t have been able to bounce back, offensively, from allowing five sacks in the first half.

The “same old Titans” would have also never been able to secure a crucial road victory to propel themselves into a favorable position within the division late in the season.

This year’s version of the Titans, however, did all of those things on Sunday. And, in doing so, the team proved that it has turned a corner. Now 5-1 with Ryan Tannehill as the starting QB, the Titans have shown that they are a legitimate playoff contender.

TURNING THE TIDE


For the Titans, the first half of the game was marked by turnovers, miscues and missed opportunities. Thanks to a true effort of complementary football, the tide turned completely in the second half.

CB Logan Ryan and S Kevin Byard each notched an interception, and CB Tye Smith forced a fumble to seal the game.

RB Derrick Henry pounded his way to a 13-yard TD in the third quarter on fourth-and-one. WR Kalif Raymond put the Titans ahead by two scores with a 40-yard TD catch.

Perhaps the Titans’ biggest play of all, though, was S Dane Cruikhank’s block of an Adam Vinatieri field goal attempt that Smith picked up and returned for a touchdown.

All of that led to the Titans getting their first win against the Colts since Mike Vrabel, previously 0-3 against Indianapolis, became the head coach in 2018.

MONKEY OFF THEIR BACK

In those three games, the Titans managed to find ways to lose thanks to crucial, late turnovers and other mistakes. That’s the way of the “same old Titans.” But the new and improved version of the Titans found a way to win.

Because of the Colts’ recent success against the Titans—they’re 14-3 in the two teams’ 17 most recent matchups—they’ve become almost like a boogeyman. That is why, even though the Colts were missing their three best offensive weapons due to injury, it is pretty remarkable that the Titans were able to get the job done.

They seem to have, as a whole, turned a new leaf. Tannehill is playing the best football of his career, Henry is frequently taking over games, the special teams unit continually makes a legitimate impact and the defense continues to make big plays in key situations.

NO BACKSLIDING


There are still, however, four games remaining on the Titans’ schedule. Those games will give them plenty of opportunities to slip up, lose their traction and become the “same old Titans” yet again.

It’s a possibility that LT Taylor Lewan is all too familiar with.

“Let’s just keep it going, you know what I’m saying?” Lewan said following Sunday’s win. “We’ve done the whole ‘rah-rah’ thing before and hit the low lows. Let’s keep this train going the way we want it to go.”

With two games left against the AFC South leaders, the Houston Texans, the Titans certainly control their own destiny when it comes to their potential to make the playoffs.

As long as the “same old Titans” remain in the past, the current version of the team will still be playing when January rolls around.

Cover image: Thomas J. Russo/USA Today

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