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Hasselbeck: ‘We’re Going to Get After it’

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 11, 2012 – 1:08 pm

Matt Hasselbeck was already at Baptist Sports Park this week preparing himself for next season.

The Titans’ quarterback took a week off after his team’s season ended with a 23-22 victory at Houston on New Year’s Day. That win put the Titans at 9-7 on the season, but narrowly left them short of the playoffs.

After the Jets had lost at Miami and Cincinnati later fell at home to Baltimore, the Titans needed victories by Denver and Oakland in the afternoon games to make the playoffs.

The drama unfolded on the plane ride back to Nashville, and Hasselbeck recalled that experience during an interview on the debut show of 104.5 the Zone’s ‘The Midday 180′ earlier this week. You can listen to the entire interview right here.

“I think we were really in shock,” Hasselbeck said. “We won the game in Houston and knew the Jets had lost. Cincy had lost, so we were kind of feeling like all we need is the Raiders and Denver to win.

“The Denver game was going on at the time, and seriously, the whole plane was rooting for Denver. We had Tebo chants going and everything. It was hilarious,” Hasselbeck said. “The game ended, I think they had a fourth down and didn’t convert and it was like, ‘Wow,’ I don’t know if it really sunk in.”

Just like that, the Titans’ season was over.

“The next day we had exit physicals and exit meetings. By the time I got done meeting with my coaches I had to see, pretty much all of my teammates had already left. I think it was just being in shock a little bit. But if you sit back and evaluate the season I think it is good that we were able to end it on a high note in terms of playing decent football at the end of the year, getting better, not getting worse. For whatever reason, winning that last game does make a little bit of an impact in your offseason, how guys feel and kind of the fire that burns inside to take the next step.”

Hasselbeck will use the disappointment of not making the playoffs as motivation this off-season.

“I really wanted to win the division,” he said. “I expected that was something we could get done, especially with Indy’s situation with Peyton (Manning) being out. I thought there was a real opportunity there, but we weren’t able to do it. We weren’t able to take it from the Texans. That’s probably the disappointing thing for me is that I really expected that we would be in the hunt for that.”

The Titans don’t want to require help next season, Hasselbeck said.

“You can look back at the games and we’ll look back and analyze it if we had done this or done that, but the bottom line is we didn’t get it done,” he said. “You really just get 16 chances to do it. We were banking on some help. We were banking on the Jets, the Raiders or the Broncos to win in that last week of games and that didn’t happen, so we didn’t get a chance to go back down there and play the Texans.”

Hasselbeck isn’t waiting for the official start of the offseason program to begin preparing himself for 2012.

“I went in there today and started working out for next year — nothing crazy — but our offseason program starts April 16 and that’s not when you start to get into shape. That’s when the whistle blows and Steve Watterson, the strength coach, expects us to be ready…we’re going to get after it.”

Hasselbeck said Watterson put everyone on notice.

“Basically he said, ‘Listen, when you come back on April 16th, you’ve got to be ready to go. It’s not like on April 16th you come in to get ready to get in shape, you’re in shape on April 16 and we’re going to hit the ground running.”

He believes the future of the franchise looks bright.

“I think if you’re in charge of running a team, you’ve got to feel pretty good about the direction of the Tennessee Titans,” Hasselbeck said. “You’ve got to feel good about some of the young players, the depth, and really just the direction — who’s steering the ship and all that kind of stuff. A lot of times if you have a solid foundation it just sets the table for success in the future.”


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Titans to Select 20th in NFL Draft; 2012 Opponents Set

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 2, 2012 – 1:28 am

The Titans will select 20th in the 2012 NFL Draft. Their 2012 regular-season opponents are also set. Here they are:

2012 HOME OPPONENTS
Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Patriots, Jets, Bears, Lions, Steelers

2012 ROAD OPPONENTS
Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Bills, Dolphins, Packers, Vikings, Chargers


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Titans Outperformed Analysts’ Preseason Predictions

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 1, 2012 – 10:57 pm

Titans head coach Mike Munchak spoke about his team missing the playoffs following his return to Nashville.

“I was proud of the guys for bouncing back the last two weeks and putting ourselves in the position to reach the playoffs, but we also put ourselves in the position of needing help and it didn’t work out for us today,” Munchak said.

The Titans were in every game but two this season — Week 5 at Pittsburgh (38-17) and at home in Week 7 to Houston (41-7). However, they can point to any one of their other five losses — a 16-14 loss at Jacksonville in Week 1, a 24-17 loss to Cincinnati in Week 9, a 23-17 loss at Atlanta in Week 11, a 22-17 loss to New Orleans in Week 14, or a 27-13 loss at Indianapolis in Week 15 as reasons they missed out on the postseason.

Still, a 9-7 record in Munchak’s first season has to be considered a success — especially when most analysts predicted five or six wins at best. At the time, they said the Titans were in arguably the NFL’s most challenging position with a new head coach, new offensive and defensive coordinators, and a new quarterback with no off-season to speak of coming out of the lockout.

Despite the odds, Munchak and the Titans never bought into that notion.


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Titans’ Playoff Fate Unfolded on Plane Ride Home

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 1, 2012 – 10:10 pm

The Titans took care of their own business on Sunday, edging the Texans 23-22 at Reliant Stadium, but their playoff fate depended on the outcome of later games in Cincinnati, Oakland and Denver.

After the Jets lost at Miami earlier in the day and with Baltimore on its way toward topping Cincinnati, the Titans needed both Denver and Oakland to win to solve the final pieces of their playoff puzzle.

As the Titans boarded their team plane out of Houston, coaches, players and staff immediately turned on their TVs to watch the Broncos/Chiefs game on CBS. Chants of “Let’s go Tebo” were heard from some players as Denver got the ball back, trailing 7-3 with 58 seconds remaining and a chance for the winning drive. Right about that time, Oakland had cut San Diego’s lead to 31-26 with 9:22 remaining.

That was as close as the Titans would get. Tebo and the Broncos’ offense stalled in the closing moments, and the Titans were officially eliminated from playoff contention following Kansas City’s four point victory in Denver. Oakland later fell to San Diego 38-26.

So as it turned out, the Jets’ 19-17 loss at Miami ended up costing the Titans a playoff berth, leaving Tennessee and Cincinnati as the AFC’s lone 9-7 teams. The Bengals’ 24-17 victory at Tennessee in November gave them the head-to-head advantage. Had the Jets won at Miami today, Tennessee would have won a three-way tie-breaker with the Jets and Bengals at 9-7 based on a better conference record and made the playoffs.

Even though the Bengals lost at home today to Baltimore, they clinched the AFC’s #6 seed and will travel to Houston to play the Texans in next weekend’s Wild Card game.


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Titans Hold on for 23-22 Win

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 1, 2012 – 4:33 pm

With two minutes remaining, all the Titans needed to do was run out the clock.

The Houston Texans had other thoughts in mind.

On second-and-eight at the Tennessee 33-yard line, veteran fullback Ahmard Hall had a rare fumble after taking a a heavy hit from the Texans’ defense.

Veteran QB Jake Delhomme moved Houston into scoring position, and with 19 seconds left, fired a 5-yard TD strike to Bryant Johnston, pulling the Texans within 23-22 with 14 seconds remaining.

Already locked in as the AFC’s #3 seed, Houston had nothing to lose and decided to go for a two-point conversion to win the game.

After a false start penalty backed the Texans up five yards, the ensuing snap sailed over the head of Delhomme, and the Titans recovered, holding on for the one-point win and keeping their playoff hopes alive for three more hours.

So after taking care of their own business today at Houston, the Titans can watch their playoff fate unfold on the plane ride back to Nashville.


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Washington TD Gives Titans 23-16 Lead

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 1, 2012 – 2:47 pm

Nate Washington hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck, giving the Titans a 23-16 lead with 4:31 remaining in the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium.

You can watch the touchdown right here.

The six-play, 56-yard drive was highlighted by a 21-yard reception by Donnie Avery, who now has three catches for 45 yards and a TD.

Washington set a career-high with his seventh touchdown reception of the season.

It was Hasselbeck’s 18th touchdown pass of the season, the most by a Titans quarterback since Billy Volek had 18 in 2004.


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Titans, Texans Tied at 16

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 1, 2012 – 2:15 pm

Neil Rackers connected on a 22-yard field goal, tying the game at 16 with 14:57 remaining in the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium.

Rackers’ field goal capped a 12-play, 76-yard drive that consumed 7:25 on the clock.


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Titans Reclaim Lead, 16-13, on Bironas Field Goal

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 1, 2012 – 2:03 pm

The Titans have reclaimed the lead on a 33-yard field goal by Rob Bironas. They now lead 16-13 with 7:22 remaining in the third quarter at Reliant Stadium.

Nate Washington’s 55-yard reception highlighted the five-play, 62-yard drive that consumed 1:46 on the clock.

You can see Washington’s big catch right here.

Washington’s reception put him at exactly 1,000 receiving yards on the season. The play also put Matt Hasselbeck over 3,500 passing yards on the year. He is the only franchise QB other than Warren Moon (’89, ’90, ’91) to reach 3,500 passing yards in a single season.


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Texans Tie Game at 13 on Rackers Field Goal

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 1, 2012 – 1:45 pm

Neil Rackers connected on a 37-yard field goal, tying the game at 13 with 11:46 remaining in the third quarter at Reliant Stadium.

The five-play, 61-yard drive was keyed by Texans running back Ben Tate’s 56-yard run on the first play of the drive. Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks appeared to have Tate stopped for a loss in the backfield, but was blocked on the play, allowing Tate to escape for the long run.


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Titans Lead Texans 13-10 at Halftime

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 1, 2012 – 1:25 pm

The Titans answered Houston’s field goal with one of their own. As a result, they own a 13-10 halftime lead at Reliant Stadium.

Rob Bironas connected on a 43-yard field goal as time expired, capping a seven-play, 55-yard drive that used the final 1:09 on the clock.

Tennessee started at its own 20-yard line and quickly moved the ball downfield. Chris Johnson caught a short pass over the middle from Matt Hasselbeck and picked up 16 yards before going out of bounds with 22 seconds remaining.

Three plays later, Hasselbeck found Donnie Avery over the middle for 23 yards, putting Bironas into field goal range.

The field goal moved Bironas into 9th place in franchise history for most points scored in a single season (117).


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