NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Flames roared on the sidelines at Nissan Stadium. This was not a cliche for the competitive combustion from the Tennessee Titans (1-1) ahead of their Week 2 home opener or the fires of past legends in Eddie George and the late Steve McNair, who waited alongside friends, family and franchise alumni for their jersey retirements at halftime.
An overturned pyrotechnics machine burned at the 5 yard line of the north end zone after the team had been announced pregame. It only served as public embarrassment and saved us all the trouble of finding dumpster fire GIFs to use after Tennessee AGAIN lost to the “rival” Indianapolis Colts (1-1) 19-17.
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) September 15, 2019
“Following the pregame introductions today, there was a mechanical failure by one of the pyrotechnic devices which resulted in a fire,” the team said in an official statement. “The vendor will be required by the state of Tennessee to undergo an inspection for the defective device and the others that were used to determine the final cause. The field staff acted quickly to extinguish the fire, which resulted in no injuries and minor field damage.”
Missing in all of this: the Titans’ statement on how in the hell they managed to blow an eminently winnable game.
“I think that’s how this league goes,” said coach Mike Vrabel. “We talked about being able to win the fourth quarter, in where we’ve been and where they are now, the ability to win the games in the fourth quarter. That was a strength of ours coming in, and a strength of theirs, and they proved better in that regard today in winning the fourth quarter.”
What Vrabel neglected there were the errors that were not committed in the final frame, but in the first three.
Indy holds a 34-15 advantage in the regular-season meetings between these two teams, but it hardly feels even as close as that. Tennessee never beat now-retired Colts QB Andrew Luck, who holds that 11-0 record against them. Jacoby Brissett, the backup turned starter, threw for only 146 yards, was intercepted by Logan Ryan and was sacked three times but still managed three touchdown passes because the Titans could not get out of their own way.
Maybe being AFC South bedfellows inherently makes this game a rivalry, but to think that would be foolish. As foolish as expecting Tajae Sharpe to convert that third-and-10 even though he had the line to gain with 4:24 remaining, or asking for a better than 10% (1-10) third-down efficiency rate when the yards were there to be had. You just cannot trust Tennessee with the kind of success they were celebrated for in Cleveland.
When one does, it is often met with disappointment. Adoree’ Jackson commits an egregious defensive pass interference on the opponent’s first offensive drive. That confidence soon turns into a 46-yard gain, an Indianapolis 1st-and-Goal from the 8 and an Eric Ebron score for the first points of the game.
A flawed way to analyze this game is to say that the Titans cannot go toe-to-toe with the Colts until they finally do. But that’s what it will take to earn a wary fan base’s trust and give legitimate meaning to the word “rivalry” when there was, yet again, no sign of one in Week 2 at Nissan Stadium.
Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.