Week 15 (12.20.10)

Hey everyone! Finally, a win for the Titans!

After getting shut out a few weeks back in Houston, we put together a first quarter that jumpstarted the victory with a 21-point lead early in the game. It was our plan from the start: get ahead early and never look back. It took a couple fourth-down conversions, but we got the yards we needed to put big points on the board. As a team, we came out from start to finish and played to win. Sure, mistakes were made and we need to get those corrected, but all in all it was a valiant effort. Passes were on target, balls were caught, the running game opened up; the defense made stops and notched sacks; and the special teams created field position. We dominated in all phases of the game!

I didn’t get too much action, but I’ll trade my time on the field for a victory any Sunday! I did get my use on kickoffs, with one touchback and good coverage on all the rest, with the exception of a kick where we allowed the returner to bounce outside our cover team. I also got real lucky on another kickoff that I barely mis-hit; it was supposed to go deep into the left corner of the endzone, but came off the inside of my foot with a low awkward spin and headed out of bounds. Fortunately, it took a favorable bounce, forcing the returner to make an immediate decision to field the ball or let it hit the ground again. Thanks to Pete Ittersagen being hot on pursuit and closing in fast, the returner had no choice but to field, allowing us to make the tackle inside the 20-yard line. My one field goal came at the end of the first half from 30 yards out to take us into the locker room ahead by two touchdowns. It was different than most field goals because it came after a penalty, was in the middle of the field (most are from a hash, which we practice every day), and the fans at LP were about as quiet as I’ve ever heard them. I think you could have heard a pin drop in the concourse… It almost felt like a kick on the practice field! I had to double check surroundings before giving the nod to Kern for the snap, because it just felt awkward. In any event, I was glad to see the ball travel through the middle of the uprights.

Highlights in my eyes:

  • Coach Fisher’s decisions to go for it on fourth downs and get 7 points on touchdowns, rather than kick field goals for 3 points
  • Kerry Collins’ managing of our offense and precision in the passing game
  • All the receivers making catches when the ball was in their grasp
  • Chris Johnson finding the gaps up the middle and springing for a few more yards around the corners to the outside
  • Defensive end Jason Babin stepping up his game against his former teammates, capitalizing on a a few more sacks before striking his trademark pose a final time before Kerry took a knee in victory

Now, unbelievably, we are still in the hunt for a playoff birth and a divisional title. It’s going to take a final two victories on our part and some needed “help” (aka losses) from the rest of our division — then again, they’ve been helping us this whole time in one way or another while we were in our six-game slide. It could happen! Just take a look at the next two weeks. The help began Sunday night when the Colts beat the Jaguars. Over the next two weeks, we need both those teams to lose out… And of course, we’re on a mission to win our last two games, at Kansas City and at Indianapolis. And once those wins are notched, we become temporary fans of the Redskins (to beat the Jaguars) and the Raiders (to beat Indy) this week, then we’ll pull for the Texans in their final game as they battle Jacksonville.

We’ve been in this position two other times in my six years with the Titans. And, amazingly enough, all the results outside our control came to pass — but we didn’t take care of our business and secure the victories we needed! We can’t allow that to be the case this time. We got the first win we needed with our backs to the wall, now we just have to get the next two and hope for the needed help!

We’re also waiting to hear about results for the 2011 Pro Bowl. I’ve been an alternate the past two years since going to Hawaii after the 2007 season, and I really want to get back over there! I honestly think this is the year for it, as I’ve put up the numbers to lead the league all season long. I’ll admit, I’ve made one or two I wasn’t sure about when the ball came off my foot, but that’s better than the miss against Denver, when I second-guessed the winds and pushed that 35-yarder just outside the top of the right upright… boy, do I wish I could have that one back! All in all, it’s been a great season for me personally, but with a couple more wins and a few other things falling into place over the next two weeks, it could become a fortunate season for us as a team as well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best!

On another note, the concerts Garth Brooks is putting on at Bridgestone Arena are awesome! He’s come in from Vegas to do a series of sold-out shows to raise money toward flood relief for Nashville, and he hasn’t lost a beat in all his time away from the stage. I went to the show Friday night and it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to, if not the best ever! Traffic into downtown Nashville was a parking lot, as fans from all over were in eager anticipation to get in the doors to witness one of the best concerts in some time. It was amazing to see and hear all 17,000 fans in the crowd sing along to every song he performed. By all means, that show was more than worth price of admission. Garth came on the stage around 7:45 p.m. and didn’t exit until after 10:30 p.m. — and after the band cleared the stage after the first encore, Garth came back out a second time and finished entertaining the roars of the crowd with just his guitar and a mic. For about 45 minutes, rather than play songs from a set list, he picked his song titles from the posters and signs in the crowd. Again, not a soul at Bridgestone was a spectator during the performance — everyone in the arena was singing along, in harmony, word for word. It was an amazing show! I would highly recommend finding a ticket to one of his remaining shows if you haven’t been already or don’t have plans to be there. You won’t be disappointed!