Titans earn first NFL Playoffs berth since 2008

courtesy Tennessee Titans

courtesy Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans will travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium Saturday, January 6 at 3:35 p.m., CT. in the Wild Card round, the first round, of the NFL Playoffs. Yes, the Titans made good on their “Win and We’re In” predicament on Sunday, punching their ticket into the postseason for the first time since the 2008 season. They did it by defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars for the second time this season by a final score of 15-10.

“I am happy,” tight end Delanie Walker said. “At the end of the day, we got it done. But we can’t dwell on this, because we have a harder team next week we are going to play. So I’m not celebrating big on this — we got it done, and don’t get me wrong, I’m geeked. But we have another game to play. Just getting in (the playoffs) is not the ultimate goal. Now the hard part starts.”

The Titans have now finished the regular season with a 9-7 record, 5-1 in the AFC South, their best mark against the division since in 2002.

The Titans swept the division champion Jaguars, outscoring them 52-26 in the two games combined.

The clinching victory came on a record-setting day. Temperature at kickoff was 23 degrees, with a wind chill of 16 degrees. It set the record for the coldest game in Nissan Stadium history, breaking the previous record of 25 degrees for the Titans-Steelers game in 2014. But the Titans weathered the weather, and won, before a bundled up, fired up crowd on New Year’s Eve.

“Very happy for our football team, very happy for our fans,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “They’ve stuck with us for the four the years I’ve been here, they’ve been unbelievable.”

The Titans took a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter on a 66-yard pass from quarterback Marcus Mariota to running back Derrick Henry, but the extra point was blocked. The Jaguars cut the lead to 6-3 on a 41-yard field goal by kicker Josh Lambo with 10:14 left in the second quarter.

The Titans extended their lead to 9-3 on a 25-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop, then stretched the lead to 12-3 on a Succop 39-yard field goal. In the third quarter, the Titans extended their lead to 15-3 on a 38-yard field goal by Succop.

In the fourth quarter Mariota and Henry collided in the backfield, and the ball popped loose. Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue picked up the loose ball and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown, and suddenly it was 15-10.

Mariota completed 12-of-21 passes for 134 yards and passed for a touchdown in the game, but his biggest play of the game came late on a third-and-five run, when he stiff-armed a defender and got the first down on a 13-yard run in the closing minutes, which allowed the Titans to run down the clock. When the Jaguars got the ball back with just 18 seconds left, they were in desperation mode, and that’s when safety Kevin Byard ended it with an interception.

“It’s hard to describe (the feeling),” Mariota said after the game. “I am so happy for these guys. It’s been a lot of hard work from a lot of different people. We’re looking forward to next week and hopefully we can build one after another.”

NFL First Round/Wild Card Round/Schedule and Matchups

Saturday, Jan. 6
AFC No. 5 Tennessee Titans at No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs, 3:35 p.m. CT (ESPN/ABC)
NFC No. 6 Atlanta Falcons at No. 3 Los Angeles Rams, 7:15 p.m. CT (NBC)

Sunday, Jan. 7
AFC No. 6 Buffalo Bills at No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars, 12 p.m. CT (CBS)
NFC No. 5 Carolina Panthers at No. 4 New Orleans Saints, 3:40 p.m. CT (FOX)

Wild Card Round AFC byes: No 1. New England Patriots, No 2. Pittsburgh Steelers;
Wild Card Round NFC byes: No 1 Philadelphia Eagles, No.2 Minnesota Vikings.

Super Bowl 52 kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.