I have to mention this simply because of how disappointed I am that the Titans didn’t win their game against the Patriots yesterday. The Tennessee Titans were one of the MANY teams still vying for a playoff berth yesterday afternoon although the odds of them claiming that last playoff spot were far greater than most teams. The Titans needed the Broncos, Bengals and Jaguars (all teams that were fighting for playoff spots as well) to lose as well as winning their game against the Patriots. They were written off as a 60-1 underdog to make the playoffs. 60-1! That’s less than a 7 percent chance!
Well, Sunday came and went and heres what happened.
First, the Steelers vs. Bengals game:
Thanks to a Willie Parker TD during the second quarter, the Steelers led the Bengals for pretty much the entire game until the 4th quarter came around and both teams started to light up the eachothers endzones like it was the fourth of July. The Bengals were down 7-3 until Chris Henry caught a 66 yard TD pass from Palmer to take the lead 10-7. Willie Parker scored with seven and a half minutes remaining to retake the lead but then with just 2:47 left, Palmer and Stewart connected on a 5 yard TD pass to give the Bengals the lead and what looked like the game. The Bengals were sitting pretty and were probably looking forward to a playoff spot and a nice post game party, that is until the Steelers marched down the field like the Bengals had replaced their starting defense with some of their cheerleaders and Jeff Reed kicked a 35 yard field goal to tie the game with just over a minute to go. Graham missed his kick for the Bengals and the game went to overtime. The Steelers won the toss and on their first possesion, Big Ben connected with Santonio Holmes for a 67 yard TD pass. Game Over…23-17.
Second, the Chiefs vs. Jaguars game:
This game was an absolute firefight as both teams seem to score at will. A combined three TD’s in the Second Quarter and a combined four TD’s in the Third Quarter made this game very unpredictable and extremely entertaining. The Chiefs took the lead early in the game and never surrendered it as every time the Jags scored they answered back with a score of their own. Going into the Fourth Quarter, the Chiefs were up 35-23 and the Jaguars could only muster a single TD in an attempt to save their season. It wasn’t good enough. 35-30.
Third, the 49ers vs. Broncos game:
This game was really the one that gave me no hope before the start of Sunday’s games. The Denver Broncos just needed to win their game to ensure they make the playoffs and all they had to do it against was the lowly 49ers. The Broncos took an early 13-0 lead on a pair of Jason Elam field goals and a Champ Bailey (my pick for Defensive Player of the Year) 70 yard interception return for a TD. Going into halftime the Broncos were up 13-3 and looked to have a comfortable lead over San Fran…but the 49ers would not be taken for granted. In the Third Quarter, Smith threw a 32 yard TD pass to Moran Norris (who?) and Walt Harris scored on a 28 yard interception to give the 49ers their first lead of the game. Going into the Fourth it was 17-16…for the 49ers. In the Fourth, a pair of Nedney field goals gave San Francisco a seven point lead with just over 6 minutes remaining but the Broncos refused to let their dreams of a wild card berth die on New Years eve. In a four and a half minute drive, Jay Cutler marched his team 80 yards down field on just 10 plays and with only a minute and a half left, connected with Tony Scheffler for a nine yard TD pass to tie the game and send it into overtime. Unfortunately for the Broncos, that is where they fell short. After a very long overtime period where both teams failed to score, Joe Nedney kicked a 36 yard field goal with under two minutes left to win it for the 49ers and end the Broncos season. 26-23.
The Titans game actually happened before the Broncos game so I knew they were eliminated well before the Broncos game finished but the fact that pretty much everything that the Titans needed to happen (besides for them winning of course) actually happened is still pretty unbelievable. As for the Titans game…
Titans vs. Patriots game:
The Titans went into this game knowing they needed a lot of help to make the playoffs but for any of that to matter, they needed to win their game first. Vince Young had led his team to four Fourth Quarter comebacks in their last four games and that was very comforting considering they trailed the Pats going into the Fourth. One of the most entertaining parts of the game was actually watching the battle between PacMan Jones (the Titans punt returner) and Todd Sauerbrun (the Patriots punter). After PacMan returned a punt 81 yards for a TD with just 30 seconds left before halftime to put the Titans back in the game, Sauerbrun began to punt the ball several different ways in an attempt to remove PacMan’s return skills from the game…and it worked. With PacMan unable to return the ball the way the titans needed him to, the entire game was put on Vince Young’s shoulders, and he delivered…for a couple of minutes. With a minute and half remaining in the Third Quarter and the Titans down by 11, Vince Young rallied his team down the field and on a broken play, made an absolutely unbelievable 28 yard run into the endzone by breaking tackles and dodging flying Patriots to restore hope to the Titan faithful. That hope didn’t last long. Key mistakes by the Titans and Vince Young gave the Patriots the ball and they capitalized by scoring two consecutive TDs to restore their huge lead. There would be no Fourth Quarter comeback and the Titans dreams of a playoff berth remained just that…a dream. 40-23
I can’t help but wonder what could have been if only the Titans had won that game. A 60-1 underdog with perhaps the slimmest shot of making it to the NFL Playoffs in NFL History could have made it if not for just one game. The Titans got all the help they needed but couldn’t take care of the one game they had control over.
Happy New Year, Vince.