By John Fredericks
The Tennessee Titans’ epic second-half meltdown Sunday at the hands of the hapless New York Giants in Nashville is a dark sign for a franchise seeking respect.
The Titans lost more than a game at home they should have won.
They lost their identity.
A team whose relentless internal and external culture of toughness and no-nonsense perseverance evaporated in thirty minutes of second-half football.
Iron Lady Amy Adams, the Titans’ sole owner by way of her father, the late Oilers founder Bud Adams, gained complete control of the franchise by ruthless internal maneuvering and a take no prisoners persona. She cut a lot of family rivals’ balls off with great precision.
Bottom line, you don’t mess with Amy or the culture she created and has nurtured.
If you’re selfish you get cut or traded. If you whine, you’re gone. If you pop off to the media – you’re cut or waived. No questions asked, no response needed.
It’s the Amy way. Or the highway.
That all collapsed Sunday.
Coming off a nightmarish and team-haunting home loss in the first round of the playoffs last year, Tennessee needed to make a statement out of the gate against an inferior team. They failed to do so.
They are known for their toughness and winning games in the trenches-especially in the second half.
The Giants pushed them around like rag dolls in the last two quarters and won the line of scrimmage.
Their identity is winning games with a lead late by giving the ball to Derick Henry. With 8:35 to go and a seven-point lead they went three and out.
They dropped three passes for sure first downs on third down plays.
All-pro wide receiver and supposed free agent savior Robert Woods was AWOL. He had one non-earth-shattering catch.
What’s worse: on two crucial third and one-yard-to-go plays —the second one with 5:20 left in the game —offensive coordinator Todd Downing had so little confidence in his patchwork O-line that rather than give the ball to Henry up the gut -he attempted two trick plays. One was a direct snap to Henry who promptly fumbled and the last most crucial one: a sick-looking end around with a backup wideout. Each play lost yardage.
The Titans’ signature is using their grit to win close games on the final play.
They missed a tackle on a 2-point conversion that should have sealed a win. Then they missed a field goal with time expired that should have won it.
Now a shaken franchise, they go Buffalo for a Monday night potential fiasco that is likely to leave them 0-2 to start the season.
It could be downhill from there.
The Titans need to get their football soul back- and soon.