NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The crowd erupted as the Tennessee Titans were safe Andrew Adams ran to the end zone after intercepting the Indianapolis Colts quarterback matt ryan in the second quarter of a 19-10 victory last Sunday.
The game was made possible because the outside linebacker Bud DupreeRyan’s pressure caused Ryan to rush his throw without seeing Adams break on the ball.
Adams’ interception return was the Titans’ only touchdown of the day. The other points came in the form of four field goals per kicker Randy Bullock – who was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
It’s rarely a great win, but nonetheless, that’s how the Titans won.
“It may not always be the most beautiful thing,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said, “but we are a group of fighters and a group that will answer the bell.”
Tennessee has made a habit of winning close games with Tannehill and coach Mike Vrabel. Since Week 7 in 2019, when Tannehill took over, the Titans have won 20 of 28 games (.714) that have been decided by a score or less, including the playoffs.
Tannehill led the Titans on 13 winning runs in that span, second only to the Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
“We’re going to find a way to win games,” Tannehill said.
Tennessee’s four-game winning streak ties them to the New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants for the second-longest streak this season. The Philadelphia Eagles’ six-game undefeated streak is the only one longer. The Titans (4-2) will be hoping he goes to five on Sunday, when they play the Houston Texans 1-4-1 (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).
The Titans have a way of wearing down teams thanks to the 6-foot-3, 247-pound battering ram known as the running back Derrick Henry. It’s no coincidence that Henry has three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances.
“That’s what we’re built on – being able to last four quarters and wear them down from start to finish,” left guard Aaron Brewer said. “We are going to play with the same intensity and the same spirit throughout the game. We are never going to fold.”
The formula is to take a lead quickly, then protect it with a miserly defense to close out the game. Take for example the inside linebacker David Long Jr.. Week 5 interception at the 2-yard line against Washington Commanders to secure the win.
Tennessee’s defense relishes the opportunity to slam the door on opponents late in the game. That’s fair for a team with a defensive-minded coach like Vrabel.
“You’ve got a bunch of jerks on the team, a jerk head coach,” Dupree said. “We go out there and we try to punch people in the mouth as hard as we can. They’ll try to punch us, but we have to be the ones to get the last punch and make sure all of our punches count.”
Facing the Titans is like a barnyard fight. They seem to enjoy the muddy situations that come late in games and their mindset is to be the toughest team on the pitch every week.
That tenacity starts with Vrabel and then ripples throughout the dressing room. It has helped win games like last week when Tannehill battled through a sprained ankle to deliver a tight end pass austin hooper who set up a field goal that made it a two-run game with 4:47 remaining.
The way players battled injuries during games to come back to make key plays had a profound effect on Vrabel.
“I know it’s professional football and there are a lot of tough guys out there,” Vrabel said. “I get that, but from top to bottom it gets kind of contagious as the guys get off the turf, get checked out, get a hard on and do what they have to do to be out there. I’m extremely proud of their tenacity, determination and mental strength.”