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The Story of a Soap Opera Season


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The story around the Titan’s Sunday night game against the Indianapolis Colts is a simple one. It’s win-and-in. It’s what Week 17 is made for. It’s the playoffs before the playoffs. It’s Andrew Luck and his 10-0 record against the Titans. It’s Marcus Mariota’s stinger. It’s a division rivalry. It’s do or die.

But for the Tennessee Titans, it may be so much more. Overlooked for nearly the past 15 years – and rightfully so for most of them – this is a team that verbally put the league, media, and football fans on notice after starting the season 3-1. After losing the following three games and playing up-and-down football since, outsiders’ perspective on the Titans hasn’t changed.

A boring team lacking exciting star power. Unworthy of a playoff berth. Average.

Not a completely inaccurate statement in the bunch. With Sunday night’s stage and opponent, though, the Titans finally have their long-awaited opportunity to change the narrative about who this team is and how the football world perceives them.

Stakes aside, this team has been built for the drama. The soap opera of a season started with a 7-hour loss to Miami, where Delanie Walker was lost for the season and Mariota’s injury woes got an early start. It was followed by three consecutive wins and as many losses. After a two-game bounce back, which saw the Titans dispose of Dallas on Monday Night Football and a complete dismantling of New England just 6 days later, they were left for dead after suffering two ugly divisional road losses to Houston and Indianapolis. The team was 5-6 and on life support.

From a fan’s perspective, it was pull-out-your-hair frustrating and caused apathy to set in. The Titans’ unwillingness to learn from mistakes and stick to a winning formula made it hard to be excited for the final third of the season, as the team would likely need to win out in order to qualify for the playoffs. While the final 5 games of the season were “winnable” on paper, a sloppy win against the Jets to return to .500 did nothing to instill faith that the team could rattle off four more wins.

Yet here we are, three wins later and a 9-6 record to show for it. It’s been more ugly than easy, with injuries plaguing the team at the worst time and needing to rely on Derrick Henry’s scintillating December to carry the team over the past month. More than anything, Mike Vrabel’s well-documented “stick together” mantra has proven to be engrained in the players. Through all the adversity suffered over the season and final weeks, this is a team that has continued to right the ship just before it sailed too far off course, unable to be reeled back in.

When you think about it, the Titans find themselves in a spot they’ve been familiar with several times this season: with their backs against the wall. Many dubbed the Dallas game, which was a match of two 3-4 teams, a must-win for both, as a 3-5 record at the midway point seemed too significant to overcome (Dallas just clinched the NFC East, by the way). After falling behind early in that game, the Titans bounced back for a dominant victory. The past 4 weeks have all been must-wins, as well, with each becoming more important than the one before. And each time the Titans, with their backs pressed against the wall, escaped with a victory. For a team that’s been in playoff mode, Sunday night’s game against the Colts is chartered territory for this Titans team. Been there, done that.

Except they haven’t yet. Because the team standing in their way’s quarterback has never lost to the Titans, not once in 10 games. The Titans have proven to be prepared for the season’s most pressure-packed moments, but with their greatest opponent standing between them and their hopes of a Super Bowl run, the team’s ability to stick together and rise to the occasion will be as important as ever.

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Lots of drama for the Colts as well. Our early successes with Luck fell to the side and we had to rebuild with another coach and GM. Lucks surgery....not throwing an NFL football for 500 days, was a tough thing to remain positive with. I have always had respect for your team, and I had pictured you guys winning the division this year. As an Oregon State fan, I am quite familiar with MM. 


Also. that 10 game streak means nothing in this game. Nothing. 

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