With Sunday’s loss in Denver, the Tennessee Titans have been eliminated from the AFC South title race. Sitting at 5-8 the Titans have fallen to tenth place in the AFC, diminishing any hope of reaching the playoffs.
Peyton Manning, a familiar foe of the Tennessee Titans as a former member of the Indianapolis Colts, led the charge drowning Tennessee’s season. The Denver Broncos offense managed to score an astounding 51 points on the Titans in Sunday’s matchup.
Despite leading at the half, 21-20, the Titans were unable to control Manning and the Denver offense allowing the Broncos to enter Tennessee territory on every drive of the game. Completing 39 of 59 pass attempts, Manning threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns with no turnovers. Denver’s scoring total was the highest of any team on Sunday, a day that featured 90 touchdowns around the league, which is the most in NFL history while 59 pass attempts is the most ever by Manning in a single game. Adding to Manning’s impressive performance, kicker Matt Prater ended the first half with a 64-yard field goal breaking the previous record for longest field goal in NFL history of 63 yards shifting the momentum in favor of the Broncos.
Clinching a playoff berth, Peyton Manning was able to silence critics who continue to bash Manning for his poor performances in cold weather following a shootout loss to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Granted Denver has been a superior team all season, Tennessee seemed confident and in great position to challenge the AFC leading Broncos out of the gates. Scoring a touchdown on their first two drives and forcing Denver to go for it on two fourth down situations, it seemed as if “Fitzmagic” and the Titans could pull off the upset. However, Tennessee looked like a totally different team in the second half.
In most of the Tennessee losses this season, one aspect of the Titans game has lacked whether it was special teams, the ground game or poor defensive play. In Sunday’s loss the Titans were unable to find their rhythm in any aspect of the game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick only completed 13 of 24 pass attempts for a mere 172 yards with his lone touchdown coming in the third quarter on a 41 yard bomb to rookie wide out Justin Hunter who continues to be a bright spot for the Titans. Fitzpatrick also threw an interception leading to a Knowshon Moreno touchdown extending Denver’s lead to two scores.
To coincide with the irrelevant passing game, the Titans could not get the ground attack going in the second half. Shonn Greene and Chris Johnson scored a combined three rushing touchdowns in the first half but only managed to gain 46 yards each on the day. Recording 254 total yards, the Denver Broncos were able to more than double this amount recording 551 total yards and doubled the Titans’ time of possession as well.
Though only recording 46 yards rushing, Greene’s performance served as a reemergence for the veteran back after a season tainted by injuries. However, the same cannot be said for Chris Johnson who continues to struggle for Tennessee. Averaging 3.8 yards per carry and recording three touchdowns on the year, Johnson has been on the hot seat for the past several weeks. Sunday’s performance might have been the nail in the coffin for Johnson’s time in Tennessee, fumbling after being hit by Von Miller, which put the game out of reach for Tennessee. This turnover was arguably the most costly of Johnson’s career.
Johnson has expressed interest in staying in Tennessee next season but reports show otherwise. The Tennessee Titans have been reported as saying that they will release Johnson at the conclusion of the season along with firing head coach, Mike Munchak, and declining Jake Locker’s 2015 option. These claims put Tennessee in immediate contention in the quarterback market looking ahead in his year’s draft and free agency.
Though Tennessee was forced to work with the cards that were dealt to them this season, it was a tough one for Titans fans to endure. With a fully loaded draft class, this may be the time for Tennessee to revamp. Starting fresh with a new coach and starting quarterback might be the pick-me-up the Titans need. With three games left to play, the Titans return home to face the streaking Arizona Cardinals and finish up with a pair of divisional matchups with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans who have both previously beaten Tennessee. Because the playoffs are out of the question, Tennessee is playing for a draft pick to bolster their resurgence in 2014.