JOE BIDDLE: Titans on a roll

Tennessee Titans players Jack Conklin (78), Ben Jones (60) and Taylor Lewan (77) take the field for an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

You have to hand it to the Titans.

They have learned how to win close games, no matter the opponent’s they have in front of them.

For the longest of times Sunday at Nissan Stadium, the Titans could not shake loose from the Houston Texans.

The Texans took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota scored on a nine yard run and Ryan Succop nailed a 43-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half, to tie it at 10-all at intermission.

Mariota came out in the third quarter and connected with veteran Delanie Walker with a 24-yard touchdown pass to put the Titans ahead 17-10 and they never looked back. The Texans were held off by the Titans defense, harassing quarterback Tom Savage. Savage managed to connect on 31 of 49 passes for 365 yards and a touchdown. The defense sacked Savage four times for minus-34 yards.

While it wasn’t anywhere near perfection, Mariota put it this way.

“They don’t have pictures on the scorecard.’’

True that. But I get the sense that the last four regular season games may follow this close to the vest pattern.

Every game they win like this, gives them confidence they can overcome adversity with hard work and a little luck on the side.

“Our guys are coming through,’’ Coach Mike Mularkey noted. “There were a lot of ups and downs in that one.

“The ball since I’ve been here hasn’t always bounced our way. It’s bounced our way this year. You need that to win football games and it did.’’

Both Jacksonville and the Titans claimed 7-4 records Sunday and both teams left with 8-4 records. The Titans travel to Arizona next week, at San Francisco and San Francisco the following week before closing out at home with the hot L.A. Rams and what could be the biggest game of the regular season against the Jaguars.

For the first time in the last two games, Mariota didn’t throw an interception. He has six picks in those games, four against Pittsburgh and two against the Colts.

Mariota is the key down the stretch. He has to let the game come to him and protect the football. He’s the leader of this team.

The final four regular season games will declare just what kind of team the Titans have.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at