Every year the NFL reminds viewers that ANYTHING can happen. Wildcard weekend looked like chalk but Saturday was anything but.
Improbable Titans Win Fueled By Heroics And Andy Reid
Derrick Henry had a breakout game and Marcus Mariota became a one-man wrecking crew on offense. Long term this might not work out for the Titans but thanks to an improbable series of events, they won their first playoff game since 2003.
Derrick Henry got the start after DeMarco Murray couldn’t play due to injury. Henry finally had the breakout game many believed he’d eventually have. He rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown. The run game proved effective for the Titans as it had all year. Marcus Mariota finally found a way to score effectively and that was to throw it to himself. This improbable play helped spark the Titans comeback which was sealed by Henry’s 35-yard touchdown run.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 6, 2018
Defensively, the Titans defense looked hapless in the first half. The second half proved a different story.
Once tight end Travis Kelce went out with a concussion life got a lot easier for the Titans defense. Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense got shut out in the second half. The Titans secondary swarmed Tyreek Hill and Alex Smith couldn’t find another viable target. Andy Reid had no answer to this suddenly dominant defense and now the Titans get a trip to Foxborough. Their game against the Patriots will be a much tougher test.
For now, it appears as if Mike Mularkey is safe. He seemed to be coaching himself out of a job during the last quarter of the season. The offense stagnated and they almost missed the playoffs. This win gave him more time to solve his own inept game plan. The long-term prospects for the Titans remain murky as the Marcus Mariota hasn’t made the leap many expected him to. This win didn’t demonstrate that the offensive side of the ball had sorted itself out. The Patriots will expose this and the Titans might be stuck with Mularkey for one more year.
None of that matters now. An improbable win is an improbable win and the Titans run continues. Fans might know deep down that this isn’t tenable, but it’s still a fun ride. For a franchise that hasn’t had a playoff win since Steve McNair was the quarterback, that might be enough.