NASHVILLE — 16 days after their last appearance on an NFL field, the improbable Tennessee Titans (4-0) won the first Tuesday Night Football game in almost a decade 42-16 against the Buffalo Bills (4-1).
Rona be damned.
Nine Tennessee players remain on the NFL’s Reserve/COVID-19 list after a 16-day layoff between games. Two days of “practice” since reopening their facility after an outbreak caused 24 Titans players, coaches and staffers test positive for the coronavirus did not seem to impede them. The offense stayed crisp, the defense forced turnovers and special teams pulled it’s weight.
Through five weeks of football, Tennessee has it’s place at the top of the AFC.
” You don’t all of a sudden galvanize when things are bad,” coach mike Vrabel said. “That’s a testament to these players and what we’ve tried to build here. You don’t say there is a shit storm, we better galvanize. You stay tight throughout, and then you hope that the fundamentals and your cover beliefs and values can take over when things get difficult.”
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 14, 2020
League investigations? No problem. Opposing players and fan bases demanding that they forfeit games? Child, please. Executives around the league essentially calling for a franchise death sentence? With all due respect, suck one.
These Titans are not perfect, despite what their record might indicate. Third-down defense remains an issue with Buffalo converting at will again on Tuesday (13-of-17) but forcing the Bills into more turnovers (3) than they had through the first four games remedies a lot.
Surely, there’s some kind of vindication for Vrabel and Co. in all of this.
“No,” said Vrabel. “I mean, I think this is — we expect to win. Four games, you’re right, never going to win anything. All it does is continue to put us in a position to play meaningful games. We get a division game on a team that’s coming off a great win coming in a few short days with the Texans.”
Running back Derrick Henry stealing the soul of Bills corner Josh Norman, though, felt like a bit of a projection.
“I’ve been doing too many curls,” Henry said with a smile. “I’ve gotta lay off the arms.”
What lies ahead…
Tennessee will host the Houston Texans (1-4) in four short days following this latest triumph. Houston feel like a gimme but stranger things have happened.
“We had a rough 16 days, or however many days it was,” corner Malcolm Butler said after a two-pick performance. “Not being able to go to practice, get the reps and things like that. I’m just proud of everyone that stuck with the game plan that (GM) Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel presented to us and we executed it.”
The Titans defense may be spotty but leads the NFL in turnover differential (+8). Tennessee’s white hot offense became the first to score a touchdown on every red zone possession (minimum 6 RZ drives), have zero turnovers and allow no sacks since the Patriots defeated Buffalo 56-10 in Week 11 of their undefeated 2007 season, per NFL Research.
What this team continues to teach everyone who they come across or in contact with remains simple. They are not to be doubted. They are not to be trifled with.
Most of all, they expect to win.