By Karen Christensen @ksc47
Texans 17 Titans 24
The Tennessee Titans finished their year with a win and their record stands at 9 wins and 7 losses, but the Houston Texans who were also 9-7 after this game had a better record in the AFC South with 5 wins and 1 loss; the Titans only had 2 wins 4 losses. The Texans are going to the playoffs, the Titans are not. Ouch, it hurts.
Matt Cassel was the Titans’ starting quarterback Sunday, as Marcus Mariota had surgery earlier this week after breaking his right fibula. Mariota was at the game in the locker room to support the team. His presence shows what a leader he is becoming, and the Titans did get the win.
The Titans had not defeated the Texans since December 2013, a game I attended, where former S Mike Griffin intercepted a pass for the win. I remember it well because I never liked Texans’ Andre Johnson because he was always “showboating” every time the Texans defeated the Titans. Then he ended up playing for the Titans this year. (Should not have ever hired AJ, it was a slap in the face to former Titan Cortland Finnegan and a blow to current WR Rishard Matthews).
A big highlight of this game was defensive lineman DaQuan Jones getting a touchdown after Texans QB Tom Savage fumbled the ball, which was the first time the Titans defense scored this season. Big man touchdowns are always extra fun, the defense celebrates more after a score than the offense. Jones’ TD was the first score of the game, and it got the crowd roaring.
The stands were pretty empty, the weather wasn’t the greatest, with on and off rain. It would have been nice if more of the fans were supportive to the guys for the last game, but last week’s disappointment that knocked TN out of the playoffs (and our star QB not playing) hurt attendance.
Ticket prices were down to $5 a pop online. Before the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the cheapest ticket price was $60.
Another highlight of this winning game was Cassel’s 50 yard throw to Matthews. It was a fantastic catch and Matt Cassel had to give it all he had to hurl the ball down to the 17 yard line. “Did he catch it?” was being yelled by many fans up in the cheap seat section. Yep! He caught it. I loved it.
Rookie Derrick Henry also scored a touchdown and ran for 65 yards. Anything Henry does is a crowd pleaser. DeMarco Murray has been playing the second half of this season with an injured foot (torn plantar plate, hoping it will heal with rest only) but still managed to be the AFC’s 2016 rushing leader with 1287 yards. Murray only ran for 21 yards against Houston.
So it was an enjoyable game except for the gloomy realization that it was the end of our season. New head coach Mike Mularkey was successful with this team, doing better than what most sports writers predicted at the beginning of the season. Nine wins, seven losses. So many of the losses this year were only by one score and it was preventable mistakes that kept the Titans from winning.
Not making the playoffs took the shine off of this last win, the Titans finally defeating the Texans. After the game, Titans reporter Amy Wells interviewed rookie Kevin Byard, who thanked the fans for their support and for coming out to the games. And then the drizzling rain started again…..gloom from the sky and gloom from missing a chance at the Super Bowl, by just a little tiny bit. One blasted game.
Now the business of football continues.
Titans not under contract beyond this game: QB Matt Cassel, WR Kendall Wright, TE Anthony Fasano, G Chance Warmack (IR), OL Byron Bell (IR), G-C Brian Schwenke, DL Karl Klug, LB Sean Spence, LB David Bass, LB Nate Palmer, CB Valentino Blake, D Rashad Johnson, S Daimion Stafford.
Kendall Wright basically said his tearful goodbye to everyone this afternoon while cleaning out his locker. He said that he guessed he didn’t fit in with the Titan’s scheme anymore. Wright was on the bench for the last game, and supposedly he is just not dedicated enough for GM Jon Robinson.
DL Karl Klug had surgery last week after an Achilles injury; and Chance Warmack and Byron Bell have been on IR list all season, so I think it is safe to guess that they probably will not be back next year.
I hope that the Titans make it a point to keep Daimion Stafford at any cost. That man has been a beast this year, he gets the whole team fired up every game. He sacked QB Brock Osweiler this last game. Please Titans ownership, PAY THAT MAN TO STAY.
CB Valentino Blake has not been so lucky this year. He just keeps missing plays and does get picked on by the press unmercifully so his fate is up in the air. Matt Cassel did say something along the lines that this may have been his last NFL game. Veteran CB Jason McCourty, who has missed several games this year with injuries and is on his last contract may not be coming back.
The draft talk has started. The Titans will have pick number 5 and pick number 18 in the first round.
Next season’s opponents have been announced. For the home games the Titans will face Ravens, Bengals, Rams, Seahawks, and Raiders. Away games will be Cardinals, Browns, Steelers, Dolphins, and 49ers. And of course the teams in the AFC South (TN had better defeat the Colts, Texans and Jaguars EVERY time they meet this year, dang it).
The Titans tweeted that they have signed all of the players that were on their practice squad to “futures contracts”. The list of players = OL Barton, LB Brown, TE Cunningham, RB Fluellen, WR Krause, T Mars and WR Maye.
The wild card rounds are approaching and the Pro Bowl. Five Titans were voted into the Pro Bowl this year; an acknowledgement of their hard work. But it is hard to fight the sadness, the feeling of what could have been, and should have been, for the Tennessee Titans.
“Melancholy: suggestive or expressive of sadness or depression of mind or spirit, depressed in spirits: dejected, sad.” Merriam-Webster dictionary. A good definition for the feeling after your NFL season ends. But onward to next year, and chin up.
I will be reading the book by former TN Titan LB Tim Shaw called “Blitz Your Life”. Tim Shaw was the 12th man at the game this last Sunday. He travels with the Titans and has been helping with special teams this season. Please check out his book, available online at any book retailer. Mr. Shaw has been diagnosed with ALS and has been active in raising awareness about the condition and also to provide research for the cure. With this new year, try some new inspirational reading to get the year started on the right path.
Featured image Tim Shaw, former LB as 12th man courtesy: Donn Jones/AP
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