The End

What started with an incomplete pass by Kerry Collins ended with a touchdown pass by Vinny Testaverde. In August no one would have believed that Collins was going to be the Titans’ opening day starter. In August no would have believed that the Titans would win six in a row, let alone six games total. It was a fun ride, perhaps the most fun of all since I was pre-Titans fan during their miraculous playoff run in 1999.

Before the game, we got geared up. My mother made a large purchase of Titan merchandise during the 0-5 start. Alison got her long-awaited Pac Man Jones jersey with the actual Pac Man logo sewn on. I got a giant red Titan hooded sweatshirt. I coveted the Vince Young jersey but the birthday is soon. My dad traded seats with the guy next to him so we had five seats as opposed to the regular three. My dad, brother, nephews and myself went. We thought it would be cold. Instead it was wet. I had four layers when I arrived. The top two were for fending off the persistent rain. It would drizzle then pour, and alternate for the entire first half. The Titans took a 3-0 lead but refused to play offense the rest of the half. The call of the day was roughing the passer on Tom Brady when the defensive tackle barely touched his foot. Only a Pacman Jones punt return kept it close.

My older nephew kept asking what the score was. My younger nephew kept wanting to punch me. They’re not football fans yet. All the Titans fans expected the rally. I remembered Vince Young’s three touchdowns from a week ago and expected the Mike Vick-esque letdown. Here’s an example of what can happen to a QB when he gets too much praise too quickly. In the second quarter Travis Henry bulled through the Pats’ line. He made it to the one yard line. On the next play Young rolled out. Instead of throwing the ball away he ran out at the seven. Two plays later Rob Bironas missed a field goal. The Titans got inside the ten yard line three times and only made two field goals.

The Titans needed a lot of help to get into the playoffs. The Chiefs had to beat the Jaguars. The Steelers had to beat the Bengals. The 49ers had to beat the Broncos. Oh yeah, the Titans needed to win as well. The stadium exploded when they finally announced that the Chiefs and Steelers were winning. That’s right, they withheld scores from those games before. Naturally Tom Brady hit Reche Caldwell for a touchdown on the next play.

When Vince Young made a trademark run to cut the score to 26-23, all former bad throws were forgiven and the stadium exploded. The Patriots wanted to let the Titans back in, as they went three and out on their next possession. Sadly, Young overthrew his receiver and Asante Samuel picked it off. In a scene that every quarterback fantasizes about, Young ran down the field and closelined Samuel for the tackle. It was the hardest hit all day.

The Pats even put in their backup QB, but then they remembered that the Titans, for all of their spirit, had the worst defense in the league in terms of yards allowed. Corey Dillon and Laurence of Maroney ran all the way into the end zone. Young threw another pick and that’s when the embarrassing Testaverde touchdown finished the scoring. I think if the Titans had been able to take the lead, Belichick would have let things go. Sadly, it didn’t work out and the season ended on a sour note. As of 6 p.m. Central Time, the Steelers won, the Chiefs won, and the Broncos are winning. It’s a what-if game, but with that defense the Titans surely would have been bounced in week one.

This has to be my favorite season for the Titans based on expectations and results. With tons of cap room and eleven draft picks, the Titans will have much higher expectations in 2007. A playoff run will be expected. I’m glad that my mom taped some of those on-demand segments that show the highlights of each game, because it will be good to have a keepsake of the season.

I’m still getting that jersey.

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