Nissan Stadium–The Tennessee Titans fell in embarrassing fashion, 34-6, to the Houston Texans in one of the most pathetic efforts ever perpetrated by any ‘professional’ football team, let alone ours. At absolutely no time in this farce, did anyone in two-toned blue seem to ever show anything other than acceptance for the comprehensive beating which left them 3-12.
This closes another home football season at 1-7, the second consecutive such mark. The Titans officially close their season next Sunday in Indianapolis but by all conceivable appearances, it was closed already. On just the fifth play of this game, Antonio Andrews fumbled, Quintin Demps scooped it up, and strolled 33 yards down the far sideline totally unencumbered. It only got worse from there.
Next came an exchange of punts, and another Titans fumble which led to a Houston field goal, 10-0. Then another Titans punt, with a play which seemed initially to spark some hope. J.R. Tavai burst through, sacked Texans quarterback Brandon Weeden, and David Bass recovered at the Texans 25. But then Taylor Lewan suffered an apparent concussion on a play called back by a holding penalty anyway. The break turned into fourth-and-16 and a field goal attempt, until an illegal substitution penalty. A punt ensued rather than a make-able 54-yard FG attempt, and the coaching staff mailed this one in right then.
Another exchange of punts and then the Texans mounted a drive. Weeden found DeAndre Hopkins down the near sideline for 44 yards to the Titans 21. After an offensive interference penalty four plays later, Weeden found Hopkins for 12 easy yards on second-and-goal from the 19. The next play, Weeden stood in the pocket forever, with no pass rush, no open receivers. Weeden began to scramble from about 15 yards out, and lumbered toward the goal line with absolutely no opposition. Weeden’s touchdown made it 17-0, with another instance of nothing from Tennessee.
Complete offensive ineptitude followed. Replacement quarterback Zach Mettenberger, four-for-15 in the second quarter, found his passes giving the dirt a terrible beating. In the third quarter, the roof completely caved in on the Titans, with 17 more Texans points for a 34-0 advantage. Then an 80-yard march right out of halftime, a Mettenberger pick and ensuing 34-yard drive, and finally a 48-yard drive assisted by a pass interference call created the final avalanche that buried the woebegone Titans. Not that it mattered.
The fourth quarter turned into preseason football, with more drama in fantasy implications on its Super Bowl weekend than any on this field. The Titans avoided the ultimate embarrassment when Mettenberger hit Tre McBride in the back of the end zone on fourth down with 1:31 left. The one-yard score made it 34-6, then Zach threw another dirt ball on the two-point conversion. Houston improves to 8-7, and a home win next week over Jacksonville and the AFC South is theirs. They had a lot to play for, but the Titans did not and any semblance of professional attitude was a coincidence.
So where does this leave the Tennessee Titans? What kind of product can we hope to see the next time they take this field in a meaningful game next September? There will be a new coach, we know that. There will almost certainly be a new General Manager. There could even be a new owner by then. We also will see Marcus Mariota back on the field, so at least the Titans have a franchise quarterback. Other than that, we know change is coming. Change is desperately necessary—complete change, a fresh start, and hopefully better football.