The number is not going to change.
It is not going to get any smaller. Likewise, it is not – perish the thought – going to get any bigger.
The league-high 471 points the Tennessee Titans allowed in 2012 are not going to go away either. They will take a place in the franchise record book as the most ever, a fact that the members of this year’s defense – primarily – must live with as part of their legacy.
“We’ll be associated with the worst defense, but we’ll also we associated with having a 2,000-yard rusher one year when we were not a good football team,” safety Michael Griffin said. “We’ll also be associated with Darius Reynaud returning two [punts] for touchdowns [Sunday against Jacksonville.”
“ … The good comes with the bad. The bad comes with the good. So hopefully you come back next year and turn things around. You put that in the past and go from there.”
The fact that it’s a record number, though, makes it harder to forget. The previous mark of 460 stood for 29 seasons.
In a game where the final score matters more than any other number, the Titans allowed half of their opponents (eight) to score 30 points or more, including two that topped 50. Only three were held to fewer than 20 points.
“There’s a lot of teams associated with a lot of numbers that don’t make sense,” defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks said. “It boils down to whether you win games or not. If we win every game 84-79 I don’t care. I’ll take that because you win every game. It boils down to wins and losses. All the statistics, I guess, is for people who like to read them and people who like to talk about them.”
Tennessee did win one game when it allowed 41 points (44-41 in overtime against Detroit) and another when it allowed 34 points (35-34 at Buffalo). More often, though, the big numbers were too much to overcome.
In fact, none of the nine teams that allowed 400 points or more for the season made the playoffs, which begin Saturday. The Washington Redskins (388 points allowed) and Indianapolis Colts (387) gave up the most among the 12 teams that reached the postseason.
“Last year we were eighth best … [in] points given up,” coach Mike Munchak said. “This year, we obviously were on the other side of the spectrum. … It’s easy to just look at a stat and say, ‘They need to change that.’ You need to fix it, obviously, so it doesn’t happen again next year. You’re not going to be in the playoffs if you give up too many points, obviously.”
The second touchdown scored against the Titans this season was a fumble return for a touchdown by New England’s Dont’a Hightower. Ultimately, opponents added four touchdowns on interception returns, two on blocked punts and one on a kickoff return. All told, those accounted for 15.3 percent of the touchdowns scored against Tennessee.
Additionally, opponents scored 14 times (six touchdowns, eight field goals) on drives of 20 yards or less, which were the product of a turnover by the offense or a miscue on special teams.
“The offense affects the defense. The defense affects the offense,” Munchak said. “There are a lot of factors to weigh in there on … what was going on and what can’t necessarily be fixed. What part is personnel? What part is coaching? There’s a fine line. I think you have to take a good look at and go from there.”
Even so, that one number – 471 – is out there.
The best thing for everyone involved is that it is a record that is not quickly broken.
“It is what it is,” cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “You can’t just dwell on it or say, ‘We’re just terrible.’ It happens. There’s a lot of factors that went into it.
“It’s just something we can build off of and hopefully we don’t break that record next year.”