Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

Titans need a win in D.C.

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Joe Biddle

In any sport, winning beats losing. It's why they keep score.

In the case of the Titans, what a difference a week made. Last week, they dropped a close 29-28 decision to the visiting Cleveland Browns. It was lost in the most bizarre fashion - taking a 28-3 lead only to allow the Browns to score 26 unanswered points.

Stunned. Numbed. Speechless. Searching for answers.

That was the Titans' array of adjectives after the game.

Fast forward to the Sunday, Oct. 19 game against Jacksonville. LP Field looked like a ghost town. Red and blue seats by the thousands were unoccupied. The mood was somber, as benefitting a 1-4 team riding a four-game losing streak.

This time it was the winless Jaguars who took the initiative. The Titans won the coin toss and opted to give the visitors the football.

Jacksonville promptly marched 80 yards in seven plays. In less than four minutes of play, the Jags led 7-0, sparked by a 59-yard completion from rookie quarterback Blake Bortles to tight end Clay Harbor.

It didn't look good. Fans squirmed in their seats, fearing the worst.

But the Titans took a 10-7 halftime lead. It moved to 13-7 after three quarters, but fans didn't dare take deep breaths. It would be decided in the fourth quarter when the Jags would outscore the Titans, 7-3.

The Titans took the 16-14 win and savored it. Unlike the previous week, Titans Coach Ken Whisenhunt looked like a man who had just escaped a firing squad.

"Well, obviously I feel better in here today, glad to get this win," he said. "It's what we needed. I think six sacks, two turnovers by our defense. Special teams played a lot better, did a great job today. We have been close a couple of times this year and this is the kind of thing when you do get a win, we can build on."

The timing for the 2-4 Titans to start building could not be better. They have underperformed up to this point. They have not had the services of quarterback Jake Locker for two of their six games. They lost their defensive leader when safety Bernard Pollard tore his Achilles in the Browns game.

They need other players to step up and lead. It started taking place in the win over Jacksonville.

Veteran backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has stepped in and put up solid numbers, especially when you consider his lack of playing time in a nine-year career.

With the game on the line, six-year veteran Sammie Lee Hill stretched his six-foot-four frame to the max and hit the ball, knocking it off line and clinching the game.

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey was all over the field, putting pressure on rookie Jags quarterback Blake Bortles. Casey made nine tackles with two quarterback sacks, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.

"Coach put a charge on me, saying I'm supposed to be one of the better guys on this team and I need to make bigger plays," Casey said. "I feel I had it on my back to go out there and make bigger plays."

The Titans now travel to Washington to play the Redskins, a team that dropped to 1-5 on the season.

Can the Titans post a two-game win streak for the first time under Whisenhunt? Stay tuned.

Contact Wilson Post Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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