Titans beat Jets, need one more win

Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 9:06pm

Aesthetically, it was about as pretty as the plaid sweater your great aunt got you for Christmas when you were 13.

But Tennessee’s 10-6 victory over the New York Jets Sunday, combined with the Cincinnati Bengals’ 19-14 gift upset of the Cleveland Browns, has the Titans with visions of playoffs in their heads for the first time since the 2003 season.

To do so, the Titans have to travel to Indianapolis and defeat the defending Super Bowl champion Colts in what is now a primetime game Sunday night at 7:15 p.m.

For the Titans, it was all they could ask for, having entered the day needing to win out and needing the Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers or Jacksonville Jaguars to provide some help by faltering down the stretch.

Cleveland’s stumble, combined with Tennessee’s victory has the Titans holding the inside track to the final AFC wild-card spot with the simplest of scenarios now looming - Win and in, or lose and go home.

“When you control your own destiny, there’s nothing better than that, because now, it’s up to the 53 guys in this locker room and the coaches to go out there and handle our business,” nickelback Vincent Fuller said. “We don’t have to rely on anybody else. We definitely appreciate what the Bengals did, so now it’s on us.”

In getting themselves back into the driver’s seat for the final playoff position, the Titans have actually been in must-win mode for the past three games, since losing a 14-point lead to the San Diego Chargers three weeks ago.

“Honestly, the playoffs have been started for us, because one loss, and we’re out,” defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said. “We’ve been playing like it’s the playoffs for the last few weeks, since San Diego.”

In doing so, the Titans reverted back to the defense-first style of play they have relied on for much of their success.

Tennessee’s offense did just enough, getting Chris Brown’s 4-yard second-quarter touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead, then holding on for dear life, getting only Rob Bironas’ 46-yard field goal in the second half.

In between, the defense was key, sacking Chad Pennington six times, and even catching a well-timed break or two when it was needed most.

One of those breaks came after the Jets had closed the gap to 7-6 on the Pennington to Jerricho Cotchery touchdown with 10:59 to play in the second quarter. On the extra point, Titans defensive end Antwan Odom came free and blocked Mike Nugent’s point after to keep Tennessee in front by a single point.

“I shot the gap, and I came free. It surprised me,” said Odom, who split 2006 first-round picks Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson on the play. “I put my hands up, and it was right there, so I blocked it.”

The next play that saved the Titans was even more bizarre, as the Jets took a 9-7 lead when Nugent made a 36-yard field goal, only to have Tony Brown penalized for a “leverage” play. New York elected to pull the points off the board and had first-and-goal at the 9.

But the chance for more points went by the boards when Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck dropped back into coverage and intercepted a pass in the end zone, snuffing out the threat and preserving the lead.

“It changed kind of the course of the game, because toward the end, instead of going for a touchdown, they could have settled for three points,” Bulluck said. “In the second quarter, you don’t really think about that, but plays like that always come back.”

It came into play when the Jets reaching the Titans 45 with two minutes to go, and needing a touchdown to take the lead, instead of just a field goal.

The Titans' defense came through on fourth-and-4 as Tony Brown sacked Pennington to extinguish the Jets and fuel the Titans' playoff flame for another week.

The Titans now head to Indy with their fate in their hands and one step left to take to reach the playoffs.

“Two weeks ago, we said we had to win out,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “We had to win three. We have won the first and second. We still have a big challenge on our hands to say the least.”

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By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This is a wonderful stretch of events. This is proof that even a blind hog gets an acorn every now & then. I hope the Titans don't blow it next Sunday. The Colts will be playing their third string (mostly) so we should be capable of playing with them.

By: DonnyBaker on 12/31/69 at 6:00

All they needed last year was to win their last game, and couldn't....

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I see Frank brought his brother on to post. Just beat Indy next Sunday night and we are in! But wait, according to Frank, we should be 8-8 after next week, this can't be! Eat your heart out, Frank!

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

They lost to New England last year who did not rest anybody. to have a chance at the playoffs after starting 0-5 and with a rookie QB was not too shabby. Now they are 9-7 when most predicted an even worse season and again in thhe hunt for a playoff berth. Let me help you with the math, 32 teams - 12 make the playoffs. What are you complaining about?

By: serr8d on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Last home-game post.Merry Christmas, all!(BTW, I'll bet we beat Indy...last year's fruitcake, on the line~!)

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Titan1, I only comment on their heritage I don't make predictions. Keep the faith. This could be your year

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

BTW- what the heck was that thing Tony Brown did after his sack?? Was that not the goofiest looking thing you've ever seen on a football field?

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

10 points won't beat the Colts, or any other team in the playoffs. If they make it, they can't rely on their defense to hold the other team to less than 20. FieldGoal Fisher has to find some offense if the Titans are to get into and win a game or two in the playoffs. On the bright side, they are the Sunday Night game so the entire country will be watching.

By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 6:00

titan1 sorry i didnt make it to the tailgate, my father and i were glued to the bunny-ears television of the bengals browns game at our tailgate.. By any chance are you going to the colts game next sunday???

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

We had it on at our tailgate also, a lot of cheering going on foe Bengals!

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Here is a pic of our tailgate, we had about 35.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v197/slurker/football%20etc/DSC00804.jpg

By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 6:00

thats a great picture! If your looking at LP Field from the huge parking lot, my dad's tailgate is at the very top left corner of the parking lot, right next to the road. Although there aren't any more home games this year, let's work something out for next year.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Will do, have a great Christmas!

By: Tinsoldier on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Tony Brown's roll reminded me of an alligator after it catches its prey, much like TB caught his QB prey!! I think it's called a 'death roll' in order to break the neck or tear off the limb. Even though he graduated from my alma mater, U of Memphis, it would be MORE appropriate if he were a Florida grad!

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I realy hope they can eak out another win and make the play offs, if they get killed in then- I don't care. The Offense is just horrible. I'm not one of those fans that complains about them being boring. I'd much rather have them running and playing great D and winning, than tossing it all over and losing. HOWEVER- they need to be able to score more than 10 pts on a 3-10 team. VY just isn't looking like much of a QB these days.