JOE BIDDLE: Titans squeak by 0-fers

Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop (4) boots a 43-yard field goal in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

The Cleveland O-fers are still O-fers, thanks to a Titans team that won in a boring 9-9 overtime game before Titans kicker Ryan Succop came to the rescue with a 47-yarder with 1:55 left in overtime.

Put 12 big points on the Titans’ side of the scoreboard.

Someone from Mars who didn’t know which teams were playing Sunday, would never know which team was win-less after seven games.

It was a thrill an hour, or three.

It was a game that only former Titans coach Jeff Fisher would love.

Field goal Fisher could have witnessed seven field goals at Nissan Stadium. Law knows he saw hundreds of 3-pointers during his career.

Titans Coach Mike Mularkey needs to drop his exotic smash-mouth offense. He could be sued for false advertising. There is nothing exotic about it.

The Titans were in danger of falling a game behind the Jaguars if they lost to the Brownies. It was a blessing that the Texans were still 3-3 thanks to a bye this week.

In most games the Titans play down to their opponent. And, yes, they sputtered all during the boring 6-3 lead they held at halftime.

At intermission they had 44 yards on the ground, another 73 through the air for a robust 117 yards. They had eight first downs to the O-fers 11. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was 11 for 16 passing for 80 yards.

The Titans had just enough heroes that bailed them out and allowed them to leave a winner.

One would be Mariota, who was not at the top of his game. But safety Kevin Byard is owed a steak dinner from his teammates after intercepting three of the O-fers’ passes.

Byard is a 5-11 safety, two years out of Middle Tennessee State. When you look in your dictionary for his name, it’s simply reads, Kevin Byard: ball-hawk.

The real star was kicker Ryan Succop, who nailed the game winner after booting four field goals. This is Succop’s ninth NFL season but the Titans signed him as a free agent in 2014 after the Kansas City Chiefs would not agree with terms on the former South Carolina kicker who was Mr. Irrelevant by being the final pick of the 2009 NFL draft. The Chiefs loss has been the Titans’ gain.

Succop was the Titans’ second highest scorer last season with 62 points. Let me see. I don’t detect a Kansas City kicker in the top 10 scorers. He also holds the NFL record for most consecutive field goals made from inside the 50-yard line.

If the Titans can’t get more out of their offense, Succop could be the team’s Most Valuable Player. Most of his kickoffs go close or out of the end zone for touchbacks. In 2016, he recorded touchbacks on 58 of his 79 kickoffs, a 73.4 percent that was a franchise record and a new career record.

“It’s a special feeling,’’ Succop said of his seventh time to win games. “It certainly never gets old.

Mariota knows Succop’s value to the Titans.

“That guy is money. We are very fortunate to have him,’’ Mariota said about Succop after the game. “In these situations he has done it time after time again when we’ve called on him to score points for us.’’

The Titans have a bye next week and then have home games with the Ravens and Bengals before going on road trips to Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, two teams that have had their number.

If the Titans hope to reach their goals, they better get their act together. They are lucky they weren’t playing a winless O’fer team.

Very lucky.

 

Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at joebiddle11@gmail.com.