Two stats show the Titans are a playoff team
Story By: Brady Trapnell
Three points or less
That’s been the difference between wins and losses in the Tennessee Titans past two games.
“I think that’s pretty much every week,” head coach Mike Mularkey said, as he laughed about how close the games have been.
A score of 23-20 in a win over Baltimore and 12-9 in a win over Cleveland have put Mularkey’s team not only in a great spot at the top of the AFC South, but set the playoffs in their sights.
It is a distinct difference between this Titans team and others in years past… by a lot.
In 2015, the two-tone blue played in five games decided by three points or less. They lost four out of five. The only win came against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 42-39.
“We struggled to win any games,” left tackle Taylor Lewan said, thinking back on that season.
However, a game-winning drive at Ford Field in Detroit — ending with wideout Andre Johnson snagging what seemed like an impossible touchdown grab – began a streak that has continued ever since.
Only 3 days until @Titans Training Camp means the #3 Best Play Call by VOTT Mike Keith in 2016…
What a catch.
Sept. 18, Titans @ Lions: pic.twitter.com/kVA1hs08gr
— Titans Radio (@titansradio) July 27, 2017
A 16-15 win against the Lions led to winning three more games in 2016 decided by three or less points.
Now, the Titans are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the best record in the NFL in close games at 6-0.
Lewan saw a change.
“We’re relentless. Guys finish games. We play 60 minutes, sometimes more,” he said on closing out close games. “That’s what it’s all about, man, to get more points than the other team. Whether it’s ugly or pretty, it doesn’t matter. A win is a win.”
His quarterback isn’t worried about blowing out opponents either.
“Yeah it’d be nice to do that,” Marcus Mariota said. “But, as long as we continue to win it doesn’t really matter how it happens.”
Winning close games is a sign of a playoff team, yet Mularkey, like many Titans fans, would rather see wins finished sooner.
“We would like to put a couple of games together we here we are playing really solid football in all three phases. We have shown that in spurts throughout the season,” Mularkey said.
“We know it’s there we just gotta to do it consistently. If we do that we could get in some of those situations, but until we do that it is close football games.”
Adelphia Coliseum is back
Well, no not literally, but with a 7-1 home record in the past eight games, Nissan Stadium is earning the home field advantage that Titans teams of the early 2000s use to have.
The scorching hot Philadelphia Eagles are the only NFL team tied at 7-1 during that stretch.
“I think it is important to our guys that we establish an advantage at home. We’ve talked a lot about it,” Mularkey said in his Wednesday presser. “That’s what you have to do win the division. That’s what you have to do to be a playoff team.”
Mularkey noted it has been tough to gain fan support back.
And, it is understandable. Before an October 16 victory over the Cleveland Browns last season at Nissan Stadium, the Titans had been 2-16 in their previous 18 home contests.
After big wins over Seattle and the Colts at home this year, there has been something to cheer for and Mularkey has taken notice.
“It’s been loud, and it definitely louder and louder each game we’ve been playing,” he said. “It’s been fun to have them back.”
And just like winning close games, a raucous home crowd is almost essential to success in the playoffs. Just look at the Seattle Seahawks, whose 12th man helped carry them to back-to-back Super Bowl’s.
The New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium noise is not too shabby itself.
Mariota said it is critical to make it tough for opponents to come in the Titans’ building.
And, Lewan believes it can only get better.
“When we stay more consistent and keep winning games, it’ll give the fans something to be proud of.”
Featured Image via TitansOnline