If the Tennessee Titans hope to salvage some semblance of respectability for the 2012 season, then winning tonight when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to LP Field is a must.
For all their many problems on both sides of the football, a victory tonight would improve the Titans to 2-4 – certainly not good, but still within striking range of the middle of the pack of the AFC and still with some hope that when the schedule softens somewhat beginning Oct. 21 at Buffalo, that a way to right themselves might still exist.
A loss tonight would only serve to extend the Titans misery that has lingered through most of the first five week. It would drop them to 1-5, and quite frankly, send the fan base into off-season mode wondering who survives potential coaching changes and what the Titans should do with a top-five draft pick.
Titans coach Mike Munchak isn't throwing in the towel on 2012, and believes a win, especially over a marquee team like the Steelers, can give the Titans a badly needed jump-start.
“Any win right now would be (big),” Munchak said. “They happen to be the one that’s going to be a tough win for us. But yes, definitely. It adds to it when you beat a team that is what they are. They’re a good football team. They’re a team that is going to be competing for the playoffs every year, shooting for the division again this year. We just have to play well and win. It’s been a couple of weeks, and it’s been two long weeks. Hopefully this week will change that.”
The Titans will start Matt Hasselbeck for the second straight game as Jake Locker gets another week to rest his ailing left shoulder. The Titans are targeting that Bills came to have Locker back in the lineup. In the meantime, the veteran Hasselbeck is at the controls. Munchak said the Titans ill have to help him both in protection and in the running game against an aggressive Steelers defense.
“We need to win. I mean he’s a part, but we’ve all got to play better,” Munchak said. “I don’t think there’s any one thing he has to do. We have to protect him. It’s going to be a challenge that way. We have to run the football, we have to get first downs. We just can’t rely on him to carry the offense. I think the more he plays, the more comfortable he’ll get again and he just needs to come out and play a good game like the rest of us. It’s not just him. The whole group has to play well on offense for us to win.”
Hasselbeck hopes to get on the same page with his receivers in hopes that the Titans can avoid the turnovers and problems that have plagued them through most of the season.
“There are very, very correctable turnovers we have had. And those are things we cannot have happen, and I think that's probably where most of our focus is. …We weren't proud of the performance we put out there on Sunday. I was sick to my stomach the whole way flying home. For me, I've got a list of things I need to correct, and that's where my focus is at.,” Hasselbeck said.
Other than Locker, the Titans enter the game relatively healthy, as Kenny Britt is expected to play a bigger role after playing 27 snaps last week in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Britt has nine catches in limited action, but the Titans need his playmaking skills to resurface.
“He hasn’t played hardly in a year. He’ll get a little practice this week even though this is a limited week, as far as that goes. The goal would be to get him out there. He’s a guy that we know can make plays. He’s got to get comfortable again with the offense. Hopefully he’ll be a big addition to the rotation on Thursday night,” Munchak said.