Story By: Brady Trapnell
Everyone calls it “finding a way to win.”
The Tennessee Titans just call it a win.
And, as the Titans sit with an 8-4 record after 12 games for the first time since 2008, Titans fans should start calling it that too.
“We always talk about how we need to play 60 minutes of football,” tight end Delanie Walker said after a 24-13 win over the Texans on Sunday. “I don’t think we did that today but we got the job done and that is all we can ask for.”
And, that’s all that the we can ask for with this Titans team.
“Getting the job done” is the 2017 Titans identity.
In the four of the past six wins, the game has come down to the closing minutes.
The win over the Houston Texans (4-8) Sunday afternoon in front of a raucous Nissan Stadium crowd is no different. They gutted it out.
Marcus Mariota and the offense posted an unimpressive 150 passing yards. The offense struggled to finish drives until a powerful, 10 play, 80-yard drive capped off by this Delanie Walker touchdown.
They took their first lead of the game at that point and never turned back.
The Texans ran 25 more plays than the Titans. They put up 40 more yards than the Titans. But, they did not beat the Titans.
“It is just guys playing for each other,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said of the perseverance.
This team picks each other up.
“We put the team on our back sometimes, we have done that this year. We’ve shown when the defense needs to make a play that we can make it. I think that is the biggest thing going into the playoffs,” said Titans safety Kevin Byard. “We trust our offense and the offense trusts us.”
Each week it is someone different. In a win over the Bengals, Marcus Mariota put the team on his back by leading a 12-play game-winning touchdown drive. Against the Colts last week, it was Derrick Henry tallying 52 of 77 yards on the game-winning drive.
This week even after giving up a conversion on 4th and 19 to extend a possible game-winning drive by the Texans. Corner LeShaun Sims, whose nickname is “Mouse”, spoke up and put the team on his back by making an incredible diving interception.
“I was beating myself up on the fourth down call,” said Byard. “Then, L-Dog (Leshaun Sims) stepped in and made the play.”
Yes, this team has it’s problems. The play-calling is spotty at best. The secondary is leaky at times. The defense has adopted a “bend but don’t break mentality.” Even after 12 games, they still have not played a full 60-minutes.
The offense is not reaching its’ full potential.
They aren’t perfect. But, they don’t have to be. They are resilient and clawing out victories.
These Titans have won nine out of their last 10 home games, and are at the top of the AFC South with a 4-1 record. And, the Nissan Stadium crowd was the loudest it has been in years.
“In past years, I didn’t think we had the fight,” Delanie Walker said on his team. “We got the fight to finish games, man. We start slow but we finish them. That’s all we can ask for.”
The critics are there, and it is warranted no doubt. These wins have been far from pretty. Come on, Tom Savage threw for 365 yards. Yes, I said Tom Savage.
But, this team believes in itself, and it may take them farther than winning in blowouts ever will.
“We have the team this year,” said Orakpo after Sunday’s win. “We have the pedigree. We emphasize this is our time. And I think we are taking advantage of that.”