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Lucky Titans Ready For Stretch Run

Posted at 1:04 PM, Nov 28, 2016

The Titans' locker room Sunday was jubilant. It wasn't a scene of relief, but rather a celebration of a 27-21 win over the Bears.

That may seem strange, because let's face it, the Titans were really fortunate to win in Chicago. Maybe even a bit lucky.

But a win is a win.

That was the message in the locker room after a victory in which they nearly blew a 20-point fourth quarter lead.

It's a 60-minute game, and the Titans almost forgot to play the last 15. Without an injured Jason McCourty, Tennessee's cornerbacks were exposed. First time starting quarterback Matt Barkley finding more holes in the secondary than Swiss cheese, throwing his first three career touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter to pull Chicago within six.

But with the Bears once again marching and set up with first and goal at the seven-yard line, the defense stood tall.

The Titans caught a huge break on first down when Josh Bellamy dropped a would-be touchdown after Perrish Cox slipped in coverage.

But given new life, the defense made three straight plays to win the game. On second down, Wesley Woodyard broke up a pass at the goal line. Kevin Byard's safety blitz on third down forced a quick throw that was nearly intercepted in the corner of the end zone.

Then with the game in the balance on fourth down, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau brought Byard on the blitz again, hitting Barkley as he released the ball. Deonte Thompson was unable to make a sliding catch on a good, but low throw in coverage in the back of the end zone.

Game over. Exhale.

As ugly as it was, the Titans are 6-6 and now even with the first place Texans in the win column.

They haven't won or lost more than two straight games this season and have now alternated a win with a loss for the past seven weeks.

They are what the record says they are, and Sunday that was just good enough to squeak by a injury-plagued Bears team down to its fourth quarterback.

But here's the thing: it may also be just good enough to win the AFC South.

Tennessee now sits just a half game back of Houston entering a much deserved late season bye week. If it can win it's final four games, including a week 17 showdown with the Texans in Nashville, it almost certainly will win the division and head to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Even a 3-1 finish might be good enough. To do that, the Titans will need to play much better defense than they did Sunday and finally string some wins together.

But the calendar's about to flip to December and the Titans are in the playoff hunt. That's great progress for a franchise that managed just five wins total over the past two years.

And Sunday that was worth a locker room celebration, even if they needed a little good fortune to make it happen.