There will be no playoffs for the Tennessee Titans in the 2011-12 NFL season. Instead, they'll just have to be satisfied with ending their regular season on a positive note: back-to-back victories against division rivals.
The Titans defeated the Houston Texans 23-22 on January 1, 2012. The Texans had already clinched the No. 3 seed and couldn't change their playoff seeding with a win or loss. The Titans were playing for the slim chance that they could earn the AFC's final wild-card berth. While the Cincinnati Bengals and Titans were both 9-7, the Bengals won the tiebreaker because of their head-to-head victory over the Titans in Week 9.
The Titans held off a two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game to preserve the victory. The Texans probably gambled because they didn't want to participate in an overtime period when they'll have a playoff game on January 7.
Texans quarterback T.J. Yates was sidelined for most of the game after he injured his non-throwing shoulder. Early reports indicate a separation. Jake Delhomme played the remainder of the game. Delhomme was 18-of-28 with 211 passing yards and one touchdown. The Texans didn't need much from Delhomme as the Titans' run defense played poorly despite the absence of Arian Foster.
Matt Hasselbeck had his best performance of the second half of the season. Hasselbeck was 22-of-35 for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Nate Washington was the Titans' leading receiver as he had four receptions for 92 yards. His 23-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter gave the Titans a 23-16 lead.
Unfortunately, this team had no business playing past New Years Day after their underwhelming efforts in three of four quarters against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts. The Titans would've clinched a playoff berth had they beaten the Colts (at that time, 0-13). The Titans had a 17-7 lead over the Bengals at home before the Bengals outscored them 17-0 in the second half.
That doesn't mean that the Titans didn't surpass many fans' expectations, my own included. I felt like they'd win 6-8 games. With that said, I also didn't anticipate the injuries that affected the other AFC South teams. The Jaguars finished the season with more than 30 players on injured reserve (IR). They also started a rookie quarterback. The Colts didn't have Peyton Manning. The Texans had to endure injuries to Arian Foster, Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Matt Leinart and Mario Williams, to name a few.
The AFC South was down. I expect a more competitive conference in the 2012-13 season. The Titans must continue to draft well and develop the players that they do have. Jake Locker, Karl Klug, Jurrell Casey and Colin McCarthy are amongst the rookies who could have significant roles with this organization. Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt must also make decide on free agents like Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin.
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 while completing a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs and Nashville Predators. He also follows the Tennessee Titans, his favorite AFC team.
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