Back atop AFC South, Titans focus on wins, not style points
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Titans may not impress too many people with how they’re playing.
For now, all that matters to Tennessee is finding a way to keep winning.
They have won five of their past six, and the past four victories all have come by four or fewer points.
Tennessee (7-4) heads into December with its most wins since 2008, and beating the Colts 20-16 for their first win at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis combined with a loss by Jacksonville has put the Titans back on top of the AFC South.
The wins may be ugly, but coach Mike Mularkey says winning still says a lot about the Titans.
“I’ve used this word many a time: resilient, a close group, never waiver regardless of the score, what time of the game it is,” Mularkey said Monday. “We think we can win until the final buzzer, that’s just the way we are, that’s this team. It says a lot about our guys in that locker room.”
Whether the Titans end their playoff drought at eight seasons still remains to be seen because they have some areas on offense to improve on over the final five games.
— Marcus Mariota was intercepted twice by the Colts, giving him six interceptions over the past two games. The third-year quarterback has 12 interceptions, the most of his career, and only nine touchdowns.
— Tennessee managed only 9 yards on 11 rushes by halftime. Derrick Henry didn’t have a single yard on just three carries, didn’t get the ball in the third and finished with 79 yards on 13 carries thanks to a dominant fourth quarter .
Mularkey said it’s encouraging to see what the Titans are capable of, something he’s seen at some point in every game this season. In the fourth quarter, the Titans held the ball for more than 11 minutes and piled up 12 of their 19 first downs.
“You’ve got to play your best football, we’re trying to play our best football, for 60 minutes, that’s key,” Mularkey said.
“I promise you they’re trying to do that. That’s what we’ve got to do, especially this time of year. This is when you’ve got to start kicking it in and playing your best and knowing that if you don’t, you still can win.”
Now the Titans get a chance for a little payback Sunday when they host the Texans, who face a short week after playing Monday night along with traveling for back-to-back road games. Houston looks nothing like the team that routed Tennessee 57-14 on Oct. 1.
“That game is far enough back that I think it’s out of their system,” Mularkey said. “I think our guys know it’s a division game we have to win.”
Then the Titans face their last road trip starting at Arizona before visiting San Francisco. Keep winning, and the Titans could be hosting the Jaguars with the AFC South title on the line in the regular-season finale.
Mularkey said he keeps reminding his Titans not to worry about what anybody else in the NFL is doing.
“If we win, everything will take care of itself,” Mularkey said.
NOTES: Mularkey said WR Rishard Matthews, who missed the Indianapolis game with an injured hamstring, and S Da’Norris Searcy, who left the game with an ankle injury, both will be day to day.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker