How well have the Titans been playing the last couple of years? Are they worth what the owners pay them? Let us see… In 2002, the Titans began the season strong with a 27-24 comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles at The Coliseum.
However, Jevon Kearse suffered a foot injury that would force him to miss most of the season. Without Kearse, the Titans were in trouble losing their next four games. However, the Titans would rebound to win their next five games. After a 1-point loss on the road to the Baltimore Ravens, the Titans found themselves facing a second straight loss. The Titans on to a strong finish just as they started the beginning of the season ending a 5-game winning streak that enabled the Titans to capture the newly formed AFC South with a record of 11-5. They also earned them a first round bye.
Even with all their accomplishments, the Titans would not earn any respect form the rest of the league, as they were the only team not to have a representative earn a trip to the Pro Bowl. Facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Playoffs at The Coliseum the Titans would be put to the test as Eddie George was knocked out of the game early in the 3rd Quarter with a concussion and QB Steve McNair was playing through badly injured thumb, as they game went into overtime tied at 31. In overtime, the Titans took the opening kick down the field when Joe Nedney hit a 31-yard FG. As fireworks were celebrating the Titans victory, the referees ruled the Steers had called time out before the kick. (Ugh!)
On his second attempt, Nedney's kick would sail wide. However, the Steelers would be called for running into the kicker giving Nedney another chance, which he nailed from 26 yards out to send the Titans to the AFC Championship. (Finally!) Facing the Oakland Raiders on the road with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line the Titans appeared to be in good shape late in the first half leading 17-14 on the road. However, two costly fumbles deep in Raiders territory gave the Raiders a 24-17 halftime lead. The Titans would not recover as the Raiders went on to win the game 41-24.
In 2003, the Titans started the season by getting a measure of revenge against the Oakland Raiders winning an exciting opener in primetime 25-20. (You go guys!) After splitting their next four games the Titans won a 6-game winning streak as QB Steve McNair made the Titans one of the top offenses in the NFL with seven of their first 10 games scoring at least 30 points, despite playing with consistent pain through a variety of injuries. The injuries would catch up to McNair as he missed 2 of the last 3 games after the Titans hopes of winning the division title were lost in a 29-27 loss to the Colts at the Coliseum in Week 14. Nonetheless, the Titans would have a successful season getting into the playoffs as a Wild Card with a solid 12-4 record. The off-season would prove turbulent for the Titans as Eddie George and Jevon Kearse were forced to be let go do to salary cap issues while Frank Wycheck was forced to retire due to continued concussion problems.
In 2004, the new look Titans would start the season earlier then expected when a coming Hurricane move in Miami moved their season opener from Sunday to Saturday, the early start would not effect the Titans who shut down the Dolphins for a solid 17-7 win. However, they fought hard for their wins. Their wins did not come easy for them. They dropped their next three games as QB Steve McNair suffered through a season of nagging injuries that would limit it to just eight games and have him contemplating retirement. Without their MVP McNair it seemed as if the air had been let out of the balloon as the Titans endured a disappointing 5-11 season their worst since moving to Tennessee. After the disappointing season the Titans continued to make a youth movement as several key players including Samari Rolle, Kevin Carter and Andre Dyson were let go. (Bye!)
Now in 2005, Steve McNair body had all it can take. Any more bruises and he will be ready for the old age home! The rest of the team is not much better as the team, which was a strong team 2 years ago, has now been destroyed by the salary cap. Expect a long dreary year for the Titans.