It was like a playoff game for the home-standing Tennessee Titans—win, and hopes of playing in the postseason were possible; lose and no chance whatsoever of a repeat trip to the AFC Championship or Super Bowl games like the 1999 team had.
Down 34-17 to the Cardinals with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, and most of their crowd headed home or anywhere but frosty LP Field, Tennessee rallied for 17 points to tie the game at 34 and quickly moved the ball into Arizona territory.
Tennessee’s rally included two of Fitzpatrick’s four touchdown passes to Michael Preston and a 24-yard field goal by Rob Bironas in the final 3:12 of regulation.
Driving on their opening possession of overtime, Antoine Cason recorded his second interception on the day of Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and returned it to the Cardinals’ 46-yard line. Arizona ran five plays on the ground and made one short pass, just enough for Jay Feely to kick a 41-yard field goal to claim a 37-34 victory that eliminated Tennessee (5-9) from playoff contention.
“That’s a game we’re supposed to win,” Fitzpatrick said. “For us to come back 17 points down late like that, to win the toss, get the ball, you know, be at home, all that stuff—it’s that the ending really scripted there, but unfortunately it happened.”
Fitzpatrick was trying to connect with Preston in overtime but was hit by a blitzing defender as he released the ball, causing an under throw.
“Guys were all in,” said Titans tight end Delanie Walker. “I think our whole sideline was standing up, cheering, everybody on offense was giving their all and we were coming back in the huddle like, ‘We’ve got to make one more play,’ and Ryan was leading that. He was doing a great job of keeping us out there and putting us in great situations. We just fell short.”
This week the Titans play their final road game of 2013, traveling to face the AFC South rival Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10). The Jaguars are the Titans’ longest-standing division rival. In 38 all-time meetings, including playoffs, the Titans hold a 21-17 advantage.
On Nov. 10 of this year, however, the Jaguars took the first of their two annual meetings, winning 29-27 at LP Field. The Jaguars scored 17 points off turnovers and two points on a fourth-quarter safety to preserve their victory. And it was in that game that Titans starting quarterback Jake Locker was lost for the remainder of the season with a foot injury.
Kickoff at EverBank Field is scheduled for noon, CST, on Sunday, Dec. 22. The game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Andrew Catalon will handle play-by-play duties, while Adam Archuleta provides analysis. The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the ‘Voice of the Titans’ Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, sideline reporter Cody Allison and game day host Larry Stone.
The Titans will close out the season at LP Field on Dec. 29, against the Houston Texans, another AFC South rival also eliminated from playoff contention.