Titans finally show that not much can be enough

There are plenty of positive numbers from Sunday’s victory at Pittsburgh related to the Tennessee Titans’ defense.

Five sacks. Two forced turnovers. Zero rushing first downs allowed.

None is more compelling, though, than 16. That’s the number of points the offense scored.

During the Mike Munchak era, the defense rarely has done enough to offset a low-scoring effort from its offense.

Sunday was the 17th time in 33 games under Munchak – the third season-opener in as many years –the Titans scored 17 or fewer points. They went 1-7 in such games each of the last two years, and those victories were by a combined seven points, the same as Sunday’s margin of victory.

Last season in particular, offensive struggles and defensive woes often went hand in hand. In the eight games the Titans scored 17 or fewer, the opposition averaged 31.

Given all of that it is worth noting that the last two times the franchise made the playoffs (2007 and 2008) it broke even in those types of games – 3-3 in 2008 and 4-4 in 2007. In fact, the last time Tennessee scored 17 or fewer and won by at least a touchdown was the 2008 opener, a 17-10 victory over Jacksonville.

In other words, low-scoring games happen. Good teams find a way to win some of them, and on this day the Titans were a good team.

“I thought the staff did a great job preparing on what Pittsburgh was going to try to do to us, and make it hard for them to do it,” Munchak said. “… Once we started getting pressure, the guys were covering well, so [Steelers quarterback] Ben Roethlisberger had to hold the ball every so often. We had guys getting there and hitting him often.

“I am proud of them that they could rise to the occasion. This is a great challenge for them as individuals and I thought they did well.”

A look at Tennessee’s results under Munchak when scoring 17 points or fewer:

2013 (1-0)
Sept. 8: Titans 16, Steelers 9

2012 (1-7)
Sept. 9: Patriots 34, Titans 13
Sept. 16: Chargers 38, Titans 10
Sept. 30: Texans 38, Titans 14
Oct. 7: Vikings 30, Titans 7
Oct. 28: Colts 19, Titans 13 (OT)
Dec. 2: Texans 24, Titans 10
Dec. 17: Titans 14, Jets 10
Dec. 23: Packers 55, Titans 7

2011 (1-7)
Sept. 11: Jaguars 16, Titans 14
Sept. 25: Titans 17, Broncos 14
Oct. 9: Steelers 38, Titans 17
Oct. 23: Texans 41, Titans 7
Nov. 6: Bengals 24, Titans 17
Nov. 20: Falcons 23, Titans 17
Dec. 11: Saints 22, Titans 17
Dec. 18: Colts 27, Titans 13