I’ve watched it, re-watched it, slept on it (twice!), and it still feels like a dream. But I know it wasn’t a dream, because everyone wants to talk about it.
The Patriots have Tom Brady. The Titans have a former Dolphins cast off. The Patriots have Bill Belichick. The Titans have a guy who said he’d cut off his penis to win a Super Bowl. The Patriots have six Lombardi Trophies. The Titans were once mentioned in the movie Cast Away.
Yet, here we are.
Look, I’m not trying to take anything away from the Titans, but rather trying to give props to the massive 19-year-old beast they’ve slain.
It’s no state secret I’m a Tennessee Titans fan. I’ve been one since the moment Nashville started the NFL YES campaign in the mid-90’s. I remember road tripping to Memphis for a season to watch the Tennessee Oilers play at the Liberty Bowl. I remember the next year being a sardine and packing ourselves into the bleacher seats at Vanderbilt Stadium every Sunday. I also remember the first regular season game at Adelphia Coliseum (side note: can we start a movement to rename Nissan Stadium to Nissan Coliseum? It just fits the Titans so much better). Section 117, Row S, Seats 9 & 10 was where you could find me for most of the early oughts. Either there or at the Logan’s Roadhouse concessions stand buying a turkey leg.
So I hope it carries a lot of weight when I say Saturday night was special. It was a wild ride. Let’s relive it through my overly dramatic Twitter timeline from the night.
Now, you’re probably wondering where I watched the game. At a bar with my Titans fan bros? Unfortunately, no. Alone at home hugging a Yancey Thigpen jersey? Nope. At my non-Titans fan in-law’s house while they worked on a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle? You betcha!
So Twitter was my only outlet to be with other flameheads for the evening. It was a safe haven of sorts. It helped calm my nervous. Or at least it tried.
This was at kickoff…
The Patriots kicked a field goal to light the scoreboard first on their opening drive of the night, but the Titans answered with a 12-play, 80 yard scoring drive of their own – a touchdown to take the lead. As for me?
However, I quickly remembered the Titans also led 7-0 after the 1st quarter in Foxborough back in the Divisional Round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs. Let’s check and see how that game went.
GEWWWWW! Not great, Bob.
But hey, those were the white helmet days, right? The Mike Mularkey days. The Tom Brady kissing his son on his Facebook Watch series days. This year is different, right?
At least for the time being, because the Patriots answered on their very next possession, giving them a 10-7 lead. Great. Here we go again. So much for this year being the 20-year anniversary of the Music City Miracle and the run to Super Bowl XXXIV. So much for another magical moment happening that we’ll all tell (read: bore) our grandchildren about, right?
Because after a few traded possessions in the second quarter, the Patriots drove the length of the field only to stall at the goal line and settle for a field goal in what ended up being the game winning (or losing) possession…
If the Titans don’t make that stop, they lose the game. It’s as simple as that. And if Rashaan Evans (who played out of his damn mind on Saturday), doesn’t give us a Superman tackle, the Titans don’t get that goal line stand and get sent home to Krypton.
If it felt familiar, it’s because he did it last year too. Against the same team.
Rashaan Evans, we don’t deserve you. Especially on a night where the Titans defense lost Jayon Brown early. Get well soon by the way, JB.
Then the Titans immediately answered by driving down the field, and I mean the term “drive” literally because they used that human cement truck they have in their backfield. On this drive (heh, I said drive again) and against arguably the best defense in the NFL, Derrick Lamar Henry Jr. had runs of 29, 11, and 9 yards. Oh, and a 22-yard yard screen pass that set up his 1-yard touchdown run. How was I doing?
Then came halftime. JB, Boomer, Simms and the gang all talked about stuff I wasn’t paying any attention to because I was nervous as hell.
That and because I was busy photoshopping Derrick Henry as a tractor.
Ok, he looks like a knock-off Thomas The Tank Engine, but you get where I was trying to go with it, right? Please don’t answer that.
The second half – and especially the third quarter – was a bit of a slow burn. The Titans ran 15 total plays resulting in a pair of Brett Kern sightings…
Holding a 1-point lead against Tom Brady and his head coach Emperor Palpatine felt like playing with fire. How many times have we seen teams lead the Patriots early on only to see those Massholes wake up, take over, and win. Need I remind you that the Patriots once overcame a 25-point deficit in the second half? Oh, and furthermore, the Titans once blew a 25-point second half lead… to the Browns. THE BROWNS OF ALL TEAMS! That was in 2014, and I really don’t want to talk about it. The point is: at no point did I feel safe with a 1-point lead.
However, that didn’t stop me from at least trying to lighten the mood.
Ok, honestly, that tweet was more for me than anybody.
And it did help. That T-Rac is so whacky!
The fourth quarter continued to be more of the same. More Brett Kern. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Brett Kern. Love him. I could make another argument about how the Titans don’t win on Saturday without Brett Kern. He’s my second favorite Titan this year, but it’s a love-hate relationship. I love him, and I hate to see him get playing time.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the moment in the fourth quarter when the grasshopper became the master. When Vrabel out Hoodie’d the Hoodie.
I’ll admit. I was frustrated when Vrabel elected to punt on 4th and short over handing off to that rhinoceros named Derrick in the backfield. In fact, I was so frustrated, I nearly missed the wizardry that was happening on the sideline. Then again, not sure how I could’ve missed it. It took the Titans nearly 30 minutes of real time to run a single play. It was nice.
Almost as nice as Wesley Woodyard auditioning for the next Step Up sequel.
If you’re keeping track, we’re now to the point in the game where it’s late. The Titans held the Patriots to only 26 yards on a 4 play drive resulting in a punt late.
The Titans got the ball back and decided to feed their anything but malnourished beast of a running back. They were able to milk the clock nearly dry, but since it’s the Titans, they had to showcase All-Pro punter Brett Kern once more.
And boy did they.
Kern showed the world his leg has more range than a North Korean missile. A 58-yard beauty that pinned the Patriots down at the 1-yard line. I know you can never count out Touchdown Tom, but if he was going to win this game, he was going to have to do so going 99-yards (or 65-ish for a good shot at a field goal) in :25 seconds. So naturally, I was very excited.
Then Tom Brady did his best Jameis Winston impression and ended his season on a pick-six, deflected into the hands of former Patriot Logan Ryan (not to be mistaken for Tom Clancy’s patriot Jack Ryan). I don’t think I’ve ever screamed that loudly at a television.
It was also at that moment my non-Titan fan in-law’s regretted ever giving over their daughter’s hand in marriage to me, a massive and non-sensical Tennessee Titans fan.
I didn’t actually jump out a window.
But I tried.
Coming into the game, I was cautiously optimistic, with an emphasis on cautiously. I’ve seen enough Titans games in my life to know that matter how much more talented they were or how well they were playing, anything can happen in the playoffs. You know, like an Algae Crumpler fumble inside the ten yard line or something. I also know the opponent extremely well. In fact most of us do, because they’re the only team that seems to be on TV after January 1st every year since Gore/Lieberman bumper stickers were a thing. The Patriots are the NFL’s Jason Voorhees. They cannot be killed. Just ask the Falcons.
But here we are with another memory from an epic Wild Card Weekend. If the Titans had a Wild Card Pinterest board, they just added a new pin.
There’s the Neal to Wycheck to Dyson from 2000, the Gary Anderson game-winner from 2003, the Mariota touchdown pass to himself in 2018, and now this. Only thing is, what will be most remembered? What should be most remembered? The goal line stand? The Brett Kern 58-yard punt to the 1-yard-line? Or just Derrick Henry and the country mile he put up in rushing yards? Honestly, it doesn’t matter right now.
While this was a massive win, not just for the Titans franchise, but for the NFL as a whole as it could’ve been the final nail in the Patriots dynasty coffin, it shouldn’t be celebrated like a Super Bowl for Titans fans. The Patriots are a good franchise, but if they were Eddie Murphy, they’d be in the putting on a fat suit in Norbit phase of their dynasty. Next week, the Titans will play the NFL’s newest best team in football. The Ravens are no Norbit. They’re more of a Donald Glover/Childish Gambino. They do everything well. Saturday was a big win, but Titans fans should keep it in perspective. It was only the Wild Card. Emphasis on wild.