Pa Ben Arthur
By FOX Sports AFC South

It felt like this three weeks ago Tennessee TitansThe season was on the brink of disaster.

They were humiliated in prime time at Buffalo: a 41-7 loss Bills, the largest point differential loss in the Mike Vrabel era (2018-present). Their gap with Art NFLRussia’s elite could not look bigger. The embarrassing display came after a season opener in which the Titans suffered a second-half collapse vs Giants.

At 0-2, the Titans were unable to score Derrick Henry, their all-around running back and the key cog of their offense. The defense, the strength of the team last season, gave up explosive plays at a staggering rate. Tennessee faced an identity crisis.

The Titans’ answer? No major changes – just more focus on who they are.

“You think every time throughout our lives when things weren’t very good,” Vrabel said on September 23.[When] we’ve all been through hardships, you rally around what you believe in, your core beliefs and your family, the people you trust. That was the message: to do things that we believe in and that we know work.”

This mindset allows the Titans to regain control of their destiny.

After losing their first two games, Tennessee has won three straight to move into first place in the AFC South (Jacksonville dropped to second place after Sunday’s shock defeat at home Houston). The Titans (3-2) are currently ranked third in the AFC.

The Titans have made a living off ugly wins, finding a way to come out on top in the drama they help develop. All three victories were won by one score.

Tennessee is the land Las Vegas 24-22 in Week 3, despite allowing 12 unanswered points and no field goals in the second half, thanks to stellar red-zone defense and rejection of what was a tied two-point attempt in the final seconds.

Against Colts in Week 4, the Titans again allowed double-digit points (14) and went scoreless in the second half. But a defensive lineman Denica Autry registered a big sack on third down on Matt Ryan late in the game, forcing a long field goal that was missed. Tennessee ended the game with a first down.

Derrick Henry on Titans win over Colts: ‘We’ve got to be better’

Derrick Henry talks to FOX Sports’ Christina Pink about the Titans’ 24-17 win over the Colts in Week 4.

U Washington on Sunday, the Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was constantly under pressure, was sacked five times and had 13 total tackles. The pass defense continued to struggle against the cornerbacks Caleb Farley and Roger McCreary giving up touchdowns of 75 and 30 yards, respectively.

But a 61-yard reception by a receiver Nick Westbrook-Ihine helped set up the Titans’ first second-half touchdown since the season opener. And the Commanders scored first at the Titans’ 2-yard line on their final possession with 19 seconds left and a chance to win — a drive that started at their own 11 — only for a quarterback David Long Jr. cut off Carson Wentz on the goal line to secure the win.

“They fight and they compete, and I like that about them,” Vrabel said Monday of his team. “They’re not afraid to play an even game when it comes down to it. We would prefer it not. We’ve said it many times, but they understand what the situation is, what it requires — whether it’s offensively in a four-minute drill or defensively, to be able to execute at the end of the game.”

The Titans are a flawed team — battling multiple injuries to key players on both sides of the ball — with many of the same issues reoccurring, even if they’re doing enough to win right now. It’s a testament to the culture of resilience we saw last season — breaking the NFL record for most players used en route to 12 wins and the No. 1 AFC playoff berth. That resilience has been there since Vrabel first arrived in Nashville.

Since 2018, Vrabel’s first year as coach, the Titans have a .676 (23-11) winning percentage in one-score games (decided by eight points or fewer) during the regular season, second in the league over that span. according to TrueMedia.

“Just believing in each other that we’re going to find a way to win,” Tannehill said of the success in the one-score games. “And winning is contagious. You get that taste, you feel it, you get that locker room after the game. Those are the things you never forget: the celebration in those locker rooms after wins. When a team gets a taste of that and you start to feel that this is really about “brings you together as a team. That belief only grows.”

The Titans’ best football could also get ahead of them.

They enter Week 5 with a chance to return a number of key players ahead of an Oct. 23 home game against the division rival Colts (2-2-1). Four members of the defense could return — outside midfielder Bud Dupreeinside midfielder Zach Cunninghamsecurity Amani Hooker and nickelback Ilya Malden — and also the right guard Nate Davis and sophomore receiver Racey McMathwho has been a deep threat during training camp and the preseason.

“If we’re going to share success, we’re going to share maybe some not-so-good times,” Vrabel said. “To help everyone pass. It starts with me making sure that we are all responsible for what we do and what we get [the players] the information they need to survive. That’s the culture we’ve been talking about: making sure that no matter what comes up, it doesn’t break your faith.

“The things you know are important don’t waver.”

Ben Arthur is an AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked at The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was a feature writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) before moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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