Mike Munchak was atypically concise Monday when he looked ahead to Thursday’s prime-time matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“We know this is our big opportunity to hopefully change the opinion of a lot of people about how we play,” the Tennessee Titans coach said.
Change others’ opinions? Maybe.
Change their own fortunes? That’s another matter.
The Titans have not exactly been regular performers on any of the NFL’s prime-time platforms — Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights — in recent years. In the last five years they have played under the lights 10 times, an average of two per season. The Houston Texans, by comparison, will play their second prime-time game in six days when they host Green Bay on Sunday.
Tennessee has done well in October night games during that stretch but ultimately has done nothing to fuel the kind of turnaround it currently seeks.
In 2004, for example, it was 1-3 when it went to Green Bay and won on a Monday night. After that, though, came two more defeats in what ultimately turned out to be a 5-11 season.
“We just have to play well and win,” Munchak said. “It’s been a couple of weeks, and it’s been two long weeks. Hopefully this week will change that.”
Typically speaking, by this point the Titans are what they are going to be.
In 2008, for example, they won their first six games then hosted Indianapolis in a critical AFC South showdown. They won 31-12 that night and eventually got to 10-0 on their way to a league-best 13-3 regular season record.
In stark contrast they were 0-4 when the following they hosted Indianapolis in a Sunday night contest. They lost by 22, their largest margin of defeat to that point, as a prelude to the epic 59-0 loss at New England the following week.
“There is a fine line between winning and losing in most instances,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “If you just look at it in terms of plays and plays exclusively, teams are close. There’s probably not much difference between being 1-4 or 2-2 or 3-1 at this juncture. I think we are all still very much teams in development, and we’re writing our stories.
“Every game we play is a dangerous one. We don’t discount anyone.”
Through their first five games, the 2012 Titans have not been much to see. They lost four times, each by at least three touchdowns, failed to run the ball or stop the pass effectively and so on and so on.
They’ll have a captive audience as the first of 14 games on the schedule this week. The next 12 will take place Sunday followed by the traditional Monday night contest.
For their part, the Steelers have been quick to say Tennessee does not look as bad on film as its record suggests.
“I don’t think that their defense is an indication of their record,” Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “I think they’re a lot better than that. We have to prepare accordingly, because I think they are a good defense.
“… To me, in this league, you throw records out the window. I don’t care what your record is, you’re going against the old line any given Sunday. It doesn’t matter, records. You go out there every Sunday, and you could get beat. You have to approach it like you have to play your best game. That’s how we’re going to approach this.”
Everyone else now will get a chance to form their own opinion.