Five and...Oh! Titans Stumble, Still Harbor Hope

Dave StanleyCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - DECEMBER 06:  Nate Washington #85 of the Tennessee Titans catches a pass while defended by Tim Jennings #23 of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Meanwhile, back on earth...

So, it appears the Tennessee Titans got their inevitable reality check on Sunday, as the streaking Indianapolis Colts rolled to a 27-17 win.

However, all is not lost in Nashville. While it's true their slim play-off hopes took a significant hit, there's still an outside shot, given the inconsistent and sporadic nature of AFC teams that don't play in Indiana.

When Tennessee got their long-awaited first win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 1, it could have easily been labeled as a fluke. Hey, even the Buccaneers and Lions got a victory or two in 2009, right?  

But to rack up five straight wins against decent competition is more than luck; it's a talented roster playing to its potential.  

That said, what does the rest of the season entail for these Titans? Most are wondering how they will digest their disappointing loss.  

In fact, one could go a step further and say that how Tennessee bounces back from it will say more about their mettle than the five-game winning streak did.  

Players and fans are no doubt tempted to espouse the "but, we can still go 9-7!" sentiment.   

But to heck with their remaining schedule, their season right now is the St. Louis Rams. Nothing more, nothing less.

And given the Rams' woes this season, the Titans couldn't have picked a better opponent to start over with. It's not as if they have to travel to New Orleans this week.

That's not to say they should overlook St. Louis, either. The game looks to feature a running back duel for the ages. Much like the Titans in their seven losses, the Rams always run well, despite the final score.  

Simply put, their running back Stephen Jackson is a beast. It will be interesting to see how the stout Tennessee run defense matches up against him.  

In the bigger picture, the first day of the rest of Tennessee's season starts Sunday.  

How they respond to a loss as a team will speak volumes. Yet, on an individual level, that statement couldn't be more true for Vince Young.  

During those five wins, Young's playing was reminiscent of his Texas Longhorn days. By all accounts, it appeared that he had gotten his proverbial groove back, emerging from his hiatus on the bench as both a better player and a man.  

However, the burning question from both admirers and critics alike was "how will he handle adversity?"  

Initially, he didn't fare too well with it during his pro career. After his season and a half in the abyss, it was almost hard to remember that he won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2006.  

Young didn't exactly stink it up this past Sunday, but he wasn't as good as he has been up to this point.  

And that's not to pin the loss on his shoulders, either. All of the Titans not named Chris Johnson shot themselves in the foot at one time or another.

But Young needs to have the coveted amnesia that all quarterbacks must have. Forget about last week and move on.  

Will he be able to do it? Yeah, probably so. We're talking about a guy who played decent in a non-embarrassing loss to a great team. It's not the end of the world.

But if the Titans start slow this coming Sunday, then it's the response to it, more than anything else, which will reveal not only the character of Young but of the team.  

Henceforth, it's a four-game season, and it starts now.