Last Sunday was one of my favorite days of the year, as the Titans hosted the Colts. It’s an annual tradition for me to trek to Nashvegas and visit the parents, who have season tickets. It was going to be a tough task for the Titans, as the Colts had absolutely destroyed the Saints nine days before.
We left the house around 10:30 and parked at our usual place, around the corner from the bail bondsman. We took the long path past the folks selling jerseys, sunglasses, and water. I found it annoying that there was Colts paraphernalia for sale, and people were buying. There were lots of Colts fans. Heck, every game I’ve attended has featured a solid number of opposing fans. If your team won one Super Bowl in 35 years, you’d be excited too.
The problem: The Titans had lost four consecutive games that I attended. The four home games I didn’t attend, the Titans won. I was in Maui re-living the best vacation of my life for the Giants collapse, and I had to ‘watch’ the game on NFL Gamecast when Rob Bironas made the 60-yard field goal to beat the Colts. When I looked closely at the standings, I saw that the Titans actually “won” the AFC South last year. They went 4-2 in the division in 2006. The World Champs went 3-3.
It was a crisp 60 degrees when we left the house. The high temperature was around 70, but in the mid-September heat, it quickly felt like 90. I forgot to bring my sweat-stained Columbia blue Titans hat. The foam hammers we got, courtesy of naming-rights winner LP building something or other, offered poor shade. On the Titans’ first drive, Chris Brown got stuffed on a fourth and one. It was a slow developing play, and could have been the same play in which LenDale White was stuffed against the Jaguars in Week one. Naturally, the Colts scored on their first drive. A blocked extra point was little solace.
The wife forgot to bring a hat as well, so we spent half of the first quarter in the gift shop. The first hat I saw cost $35. I was able to find a white hat that looked exactly like the one I had at home. At least there was a TV in the gift shop. We saw Roydell Williams break ten yards past the deepest Colt defender. What I didn’t see was Vince Young underthrow the ball, keeping the team from an easy touchdown.
By the time we were comfortably in our seats, the Colts had scored again. The defense wasn’t putting up much of a fight, and the offense kept missing opportunities. Young missed Bo Scaife, who was wide open at the Colts’ ten-yard line. Another field goal cut the lead to 7. With less than two minutes to go, Mr. Madden 2008 made a nice run on second down. He did his usual dance and the result was a 15-yard penalty. The Colts got the ball back and nearly scored a touchdown. With one time out left, holding the ball at the Titan four, Manning made a quick call rather than using the team’s last timeout. He hit Harrison in the back of the end zone, but the ball dropped. The clock stopped at 0:01. I thought this was a home game for the Titans. The Colts led 16-6 at the half.
The Colts started the second half with a six minute drive that led to another field goal. The game felt all but lost. The Titans responded by stalling out at the Colt 38. I wanted them to go for it. I, as usual, made the wrong call. Craig Hentrich dropped the ball at the one-yard-line. On third down of the subsequent drive, Manning, a bit less than MVPish when about to get hit, forced a throw right to Cortland Finnegan. He has to be the most athletic guy named “Cortland” in history. LenDale White did all the work, scoring his first NFL touchdown.
The Colts drove back down the field. Harrison was just out of bounds on a fade on third down. The Titans blocked the field goal attempt, but it managed to hit the front crossbar and slide over. It was a two-score game heading into the fourth quarter. The Titans came to our end zone in the final quarter. It didn’t start well, as Chris Davis fumbled and the Colts were on the verge of putting the game away. Vinatieri missed. As Homer Simpson would say, Hall of Famer my butt.
What followed was a 12-play drive. Young finished with a nice one-yard out to Roydell Williams. There were six minutes left. The crowd was its loudest during the first few plays of the subsequent drive. Two first downs later, it was two-minute warning time, and the crowd silenced. A few folks started to leave. This is when the Colts got a bit wacky. Manning threw two straight passes at Harrison. The second pass was headed for the end zone. Former Colt Nick Harper got a hand on the ball. It looked like he could have made the interception. On third down, Manning took the sack. The punt put the ball through the end zone. There were 97 seconds on the clock.
At that point, it was gravy. I didn’t expect the Titans to win, but they were about 40 yards out of field goal range. Bironas could make a 50-yarder. On first down Young held the ball too long and was sacked. 30 seconds went off the clock. On second down Brandon Jones caught a short out pass. He was knocked out of bounds. The clock didn’t stop. In two plays the Titans had evaporated all but 40 seconds. Young hit Roydell Williams for 14 yards. 20 yards to go. It was going to happen. Young scrambled to get into Colt territory. On third down he hit Jones at the Colt 35. Only problem was, Jones didn’t catch the ball. On fourth down Young started to scramble, ran into a couple of Colts, then offered a poorly improvised lateral to guard Jacob Bell. It didn’t end well.
I had to make the “walk of shame” uphill back to the car. That’s five in a row. I’ll be back on October 7 to watch the Titans take on the Falcons. I apologize to Titan nation if the result is not favorable.