The Tennessee Titans did their part, rallying for a 16-10 victory over the Houston Texans.
Now, the decision will rest with CEO Tommy Smith and general manager Ruston Webster as to what changes lie ahead for the Titans.
Atop the list of course is whether or not Coach Mike Munchak and his staff will be back after a 7-9 finish, just one more win than a year ago, but as it turns out, closer to the playoffs than expected in the AFC after Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Miami, and the New York Jets all finished 8-8. One more victory somewhere along the way could have had Tennessee still in the postseason mix.
On Sunday, the Titans used the formula that Munchak had hoped to use all season – running the football with success. Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown on 27 rushing attempts, in what might also be his final game in a Tennessee uniform.
“It was fun to watch that last two weeks,” Munchak said of Johnson's play. “That's what we hoped you would have seen more of throughout the season.”
The Titans rallied from down 7-0 early as the Texans scored on the first drive of the game. Rob Bironas nailed a pair of first half field goals, including a 55-yarder as the half expired.
Tennessee finally broke through and took the lead when Johnson scored from 11 yards out with 5:39 to play in the third quarter and then added another Bironas field goal to go up 16-7, before the Texans scored with 2:53 to go to cut it to the final margin.
Houston did get the football back with 1:06 to play, but Michael Griffin intercepted Matt Schaub to give the Titans the victory.
After the game, the mood was about what lay in store for the franchise, the coaches and the players.
“We brought in a lot of good people to this football team this past year that really helped us in a lot of ways,” Munchak said. “A lot of them are going to stay here, and then we need to add to that, which we will be able to do.”
Webster, Munchak and Smith will meet to determine the direction of the coaching staff and the team in the coming days.
“I don't know the day just yet, but we'll be deliberate in the process,” Webster said.
While the Titans will wait and see what will happen, many players endorsed Munchak returning for the final year of his contract in 2014, despite only a one-game improvement and $100 million being spent in free agency last of-season.
“We have players everywhere at every position, and there is some tweaking that we need to do, or they need to do. I'm excited about the direction they want to go. Coach Munch is fired up. He wants to win bad. He's not stepping out on that field,” said safety Bernard Pollard, one of those brought in this season. “He's coaching, he's doing his durnedest to make sure we're in the right position but we as players, we've got to be professionals and go out there and play the way we've been coached. It just hasn't happened like that. The last couple of weeks you guys have seen it. ...We have to have players and coaches where we're making winning calls and winning plays, and we haven't done that in the nine games. For all of us, we're all on the hot seat.”
Defensive end Derrick Morgan agreed, saying, “We're a way better team than we were last year. Our record doesn't show it, but we've had some really tough breaks, but God-willing, next year, we're gonna do some really good things. … Munchak is a really great guy. He is straightforward with the players and doesn't play any mind games. We've got his back, and he has our respect. Hopefully, he is here. ... But whatever happens, we've got his back.”