Mike Vrabel’s post-Monday mastery continues


NASHVILLE — You can’t win them all. But since Mike Vrabel became their head coach, the Tennessee Titans have never lost immediately after playing Monday Night Football.

Tennessee improved to 5-0 under its current head coach in games following Monday’s game with Sunday’s 24-22 win over the Las Vegas Raiders at Nissan Stadium. It’s tied for the best such record in the NFL since the start of 2018, when Vrabel replaced Mike Mularkey. The Baltimore Ravens are also 5-0 while New England is 4-0 and Green Bay is 3-0.

All five wins after Monday have been home games and the average winning margin has been 11.4 points. Twice, the Titans won by 24 points. The latter was the third that was only decided in the final seconds.

Tennessee (1-2) is no longer playing Monday this season.

“The guys were in pain. The guys were tired, but we kept preaching one more game,” safety Kevin Byard said. “…It was going to be tight. It was going to come down to one last possession where it was the attack on the field or the defense on the field. We happened to be the last to play and we played to win the game.

The Titans only got past the Raiders (0-3) when linebacker Dylan Cole interrupted a game-tying two-point conversion with 1:14 remaining, and Austin Hooper collected the subsequent kick. Las Vegas beat Tennessee 12-0 in the second half and got their last 10 in 2:15 late in the game.

After a short week on the job, a quick start — touchdowns on the first three offensive possessions — and a field goal as time expired in the second quarter gave the Titans a 24-10 lead that ultimately held.

“I’m proud of how we responded (Sunday),” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We went out and played with an attitude, played with an advantage and found a way to win at the end of the day. That’s all we asked ourselves to do. That’s all we ask ourselves to do and I’m proud of our guys. We did it.

A look at Titans matches under Vrabel after an appearance on Monday Night Football:

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• November 11, 2018: vs. New England: W 34-10 — The defense held New England quarterback Tom Brady to a 51.2 completion percentage and no touchdown passes. Tennessee scored touchdowns on its first two offensive possessions and never trailed.

• December 2, 2018: vs. New York Jets, W 26-22 — Marcus Mariota’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis with 36 seconds left put the Titans ahead for the first time. The winning drive included a 25-yard run from Mariota which he fumbled on but recovered the loose ball.

• September 20, 2020: vs. Jacksonville, W 33-30 — Stephen Gostkowski’s 49-yard field goal with 1:39 left broke a 30-30 tie. Tennessee led by 13 early in the fourth quarter, but Jacksonville tied with 7:25 remaining.

• October 24, 2021: vs. Kansas City, W 27-3 — The defense limited Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes to 206 passing yards and no touchdowns. Kansas City never crossed midfield in the first half, and for the game lost two fumbles, threw an interception, failed once on fourth down, and missed a field goal.

• September 25, 2022: vs. Las Vegas, 24-22 — Randy Bullock’s 48-yard field goal as time expired in the first half proved crucial. Tennessee was outscored 12-0 over the past two quarters as the defense, which held the Raiders to a third conversion on 11 tries, allowed conversions in the fourth on Las Vegas’ last possession.

What made the latter different from the others was what preceded the contest. Three of the first four triumphs after Monday have come six days after a win. The exception was the 2018 game with the Jets, which came after a 34-17 loss at Houston.

The Titans didn’t just lose last Monday night at Buffalo. Their 41-7 loss was their worst of the Vrabel era, and it dropped them to 0-2 for the first time under their head coach.

So it’s never been more important that they come back and get a win in a short week.

“I think it will help everyone,” Vrabel said. “Losing sucks, especially when you’re used to winning and have high expectations. I’m excited for the players. I am really. … You only get what you fight for in this league, and I thought they were fighting for that (Sunday).


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