The monkey is off their back, the elephant in the room just left and took the 800-pound gorilla with it.
The Tennessee Titans survived the winless Cleveland Browns, 28-26, Sunday at Nissan Stadium and in the process ended their home stadium misery, won consecutive games for the first time in more than two years and have a .500 record this late in the season for the first time since 2013.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said it was important for the Titans to get the win, but not look past the lowly Browns with division games coming up Sunday at home with the Indianapolis Colts, followed by a Thursday night game with Jacksonville.
“The whole week we were talking about just winning this game, everything …. there was a lot of things out there – two in a row, winning at home – for a variety of reasons, it was important that we won this game,” Mularkey said. “I think it took care of all the reasons why we had to win it.
“I’m not sure the last couple of years that they could win that game. This year, we found a way to win the game.”
Tennessee got an assist from the Browns, who were down nine points after a Terrelle Pryor TD catch with 2:07 left and went for two-points. The two-point play was no good, but the Browns recovered the onside kick and scored again. Because of that two-point try, it proved to be too little, too late for Cleveland and a needed boost for the Titans.
“I went for two early because I knew at some point I was going to have to go for it,” said Browns coach Hue Jackson in trying to explain the baffling decision.
It aided the Titans, who in taking care of business on Sunday, scored a pair of second-half touchdowns and put a lot of bad history in the rearview mirror in the process.
Tennessee had lost 16 of 18 home games (beating only Jacksonville), won two in a row in a season for the first time since 2013, and equaled their win total from last season. At 3-3, the Titans now find themselves in the thick of the AFC South race with division rivals Indianapolis and Jacksonville coming to town the next two games.
“You hear all the noise in here (after the game). It feels good to get two in a row, and especially get one at home. It was ugly, but it was just good to get a win,” tight end Delanie Walker said. “I think everyone is excited. But again, there’s got to be a short memory. We’ve got to get ready to play the Colts. That’s going to be another tough game. We want to get another win at home and make it three straight (overall).”
On Sunday, the Titans scored on their opening drive, thanks in large part to Marcus Mariota, who opened the game with a 41-yard run and then finished off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews.
Mariota had three touchdown passes for the second week in a row, also finding Kendall Wright, who had eight catches for 133 yards, and one to Anthony Fasano from 15 yards. Running back DeMarco Murray also had a rushing TD for the Titans.
Mariota was 17 of 24 but had 284 yards passing with three touchdowns and one interception.