I’m not going to call Week 6 game in the middle of October a must-win game for anyone, but last night was about as close to a must-win game as you can get for the Tennessee Titans. They came into the season with a ton of buzz after the giant step forward that they took last year. There was playoff buzz and even some darkhorse Super Bowl buzz for this group. And then they promptly face planted in the season opener against the Raiders at home. Then won two straight and then lost two straight, including an absolutely savage 57 point beatdown at the hands of the Houston Texans.

So they came into last night with a 2-3 record. Again, there’s no such thing as a must-win game in October, but if you’re facing the Indianapolis Colts at home in prime time, you have to win that. You can’t fall to 2-4 and hope to have a good season, especially when one of those losses would be to the Colts. And yes, I know the Colts had beaten the Titans 11 straight times and no, I really don’t understand that stat at all. That makes absolutely no sense, but after last night’s 36-22 Titans win, that streak is over.

Did you see Derrick Henry? DID YOU SEE DEMARCO MURRAY?

Because I saw DeMarco Murray and I saw the Titans impose their will on the Colts in the second half when they ran the same play four straight times in a 15-play touchdown drive. Slant 35 deuce, if you need it. And the Titans needed it and the Colts needed to find a way to stop it. There is nothing nastier than just calling the same running play four straight times. That is brass. That’s how you get your mojo back as a team, and the Titans did that.

When Marcus Mariota was down, did you count him out? You shouldn’t, because even though he was banged up, he battled like hell. The rap on him had been that he wasn’t a pocket passer. Take away his ability to run and let’s see how good he is. Well, the hamstring injury took away his ability to run and the answer is: he’s still pretty damn good. 23 for 32 for 306 yards and no pass was bigger than this beauty to Taywan Taylor that gave the Titans the lead for good…

Head coach Mike Mularkey said afterwards: “He’s as tough as I’ve been around and made some throws that were, obviously that one to Taywan was a big throw. It was a real big throw. I mean he did. He played well.”

If Mike Mularkey, who is one of the toughest looking head coaches, is praising you for your toughness that says something. Because toughness is what he values and toughness is what this team has in bulk, yo. Like Jungle Legend Wesley Woodyard coming up huge on a fourth and inches with just over two minutes left by stopping Jacoby Brissett.

If you’re the Colts, it’s brutal to come that close and then get shut down like that at the end. And then even more brutal to have this happen to you moments later.

That’s 6 feet, 3 inches and 250 pounds, conservatively, running at you late in a game. I can get why Colts defenders wouldn’t be rushing to get in the path of that holy terror. After 59 minutes of football, the last thing you want to be doing is jumping in the way of a freight train. These are the smashmouth Titans everyone was expecting in September. It may have taken a little longer, but it feels like they finally arrived. And not a moment too soon.

 

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