The last time the Tennessee Titans went this far in the NFL playoffs, Steve McNair was still the quarterback. And a last minute prayer he tossed into the frigid New England air bounced off the hands of wide receiver Drew Bennett.
Tomorrow the Titans return to face the Patriots after notching the franchise’s first playoff win since 2004.
Longtime NFL writer and sports radio host Paul Kuharsky of Paulkuharsky.com says last week’s dramatic victory helped turn many cautious skeptics into born-again believers.
“I think virtually everybody is in now,” Kuharsky says. “Which is a pretty big pivot over the last two weeks.”
Kuharsky notes a Twitter poll he conducted as the regular season ended which had a significant percentage of fans wanting a head coaching change more than playoff success.
Kuharsky calls “the disconnect between this town and this team through the regular season” “extraordinary” and places the blame for that largely on a fan base dissatisfied with the current coaching staff and specifically the offense.
But since the win, he says the calls coming into their radio show have taken a more optimistic tone. While not quite the frenzy displayed during last year’s Stanley Cup run by the Nashville Predators, there has been revived interest in a team that the town had grown accustomed to either doubting or ignoring.
Kuharsky says a win this week could also go a long way to capturing the attention of a new generation, many of whom weren’t even born during that last visit to New England.
“I talk to people all the time who were in those years,” Kuharsy states. “They were eight or they were twelve or in middle school - when the Titans made that run in ‘99 or into the 2000’s and that’s what their whole faithfulness is rooted in.”
Kuharsky says, regardless, making it to this week’s Divisional round “absolutely” qualifies as a success. Especially considering that only two years ago, the team was considered by many to be the worst in the NFL.