They didn’t solve the riddle of their running game. If anything, in fact, the question about what to do in that regard only deepened.
Their defense did not regain the form that made it one of the league’s best through the first four weeks of the season. Their young receivers were better but did nothing to strike fear in the hearts of upcoming opponents.
Without a doubt, though, the Tennessee Titans did one significant thing Sunday. They won.
Recall, after all, that this is a franchise that watched each of the last two seasons go down the drain in the throes of extended, often ugly losing streaks. There were six straight losses a year ago following a 5-2 start just as there were six consecutive defeats to open the 2009 campaign, which ended with eight victories in the final 10.
In the wake of back-to-back defeats by a combined score of 79-24, the winless Indianapolis Colts undeniably were the right opponent for the Tennessee Titans, whose 27-10 victory was uninspiring, to say the least, but not at all unwelcome.
“Obviously, a win is the bottom line,” coach Mike Munchak said. “There’s some things we know we need to improve upon but it’s good to get to 4-3 from the way the last two weeks went. So we’re going to enjoy this and learn from it and get ready for next week.”
A three-game losing streak does not mean a playoff appearance is out of the question. The Titans got to the postseason in 2007, when they dropped three in a row in November, and in 2002, when they lost four straight in September and October.
It is absolutely impossible, though, to have a six-game skid unless you lose three in a row – twice.
Plus, every time since 1997 – the first year the franchise was based in Middle Tennessee – that the Titans failed to reach the postseason, they lost three in a row at some point.
As of now, the Titans won their last game. Any losing streak, therefore, is out of the question for at least a week and the type of disappointment and bitterness that can fuel such a slide is at bay with the Cincinnati Bengals headed this way.
“This is a win we were supposed to get, I feel like,” wide receiver Nate Washington said. “I’m not going to come in here and say that we didn’t expect this. I am very happy about the win, but I’m not clicking my heels.
“…We did our job. We came in and we got a good win and I’m looking forward to moving forward next week.”
Never mind that their record-setting, multi-millionaire running back, Chris Johnson, was shown up by a smaller, supposedly less-explosive version of himself in Javon Ringer. Likewise, it matters not that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck averaged fewer than 10 yards on his 23 completions or that the Colts, without quarterback Peyton Manning, exceeded their season average for total yards by more than 100.
The Titans now are one of 10 AFC teams at 4-3 or better – the Kansas City Chiefs can join that group with a victory Monday night – and none are better than 6-2. The division remains very much up for grabs given that Houston is just a half a game ahead.
At the end of the season, no one asks how you won. They ask how many. This one counts for just as much as the 26-13 triumph over Baltimore in Week 2 whether or not it looked as good (it certainly did not) as it unfolded.
There are still plenty of questions about this team. How long will it keep losing is not one of them … and that is the more important thing.