'It's an ugly sport:' Titans fans need to accept this is who their team is right now

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nissan Stadium was hardly full Sunday.

But I looked around as Texans left tackle Jeff Allen got called for three successive false starts late in the game, and the lower bowl was crowded.

In combination with the patch club level and upper deck crowd, those in attendance made enough noise to help flummox the visitors TitansDoorsand influence a 24-13 win that got the Titans to 8-4.

And maybe there was a bit of a turning point in there.

There was less negative overreaction from the fanbase, and I sensed more buzz.

Whether there is or isn't, it's time for fans to accept this team for who it is. It's not going to win beauty contests, but it is going to win games. And as Delanie Walker told me, "Who said football was pretty? It's ugly, It's an ugly sport."

My video report:

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Reaction to Twitter over-reaction to the Titans during their win over the Texans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Someday, perhaps a game will unfold in a way that doesn't allow so many to be crazy early on.

And then this column will be in jeopardy. But it is alive and well after the Titans 24-13 win over the Texans.

PK: When you say pitiful what I hear is, “Have won twice as many games as they’ve lost, which only three other teams in the AFC have done.” Well said!MariotaMichaelHOU

PK: You tweeted this early in the game. So it’s clear you don’t watch this team with any regularity. Because what the Titans often do is, they play lousy early and then fight back and come out ahead. In general, it’s just not smart to take an early sampling – of most games – and to declare that it tells you the end results. With this team that’s really unwise tactic.

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'Mouse' was heard by Texans with decisive interception

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Logan Ryan was battling DeAndre Hopkins pretty well Sunday at Nissan Stadium in what was the Titans’ first true cornerback-on-receiver matchup of the season.

So when Ryan took a helmet-to-helmet hit from running back Alfred Blue on the left sideline with 6:29 remaining in the third quarter, it looked like trouble.

Clearly woozy, Ryan false started a few times as he tried to get up. He had a blank gaze as he walked into the sideline medical tent. He was done for the day with a concussion and the Titans turned to LeShaun Sims to and I presumed trouble was ahead.SimsPickHOU

But the second-year cornerback from Southern Utah handled the assignment with aplomb.

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How the Titans called Derrick Henry's 75-yard game-sealing touchdown play

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- How the Titans' game-clinching 75-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry came to be is a pretty good story about film study, situational recognition and execution.

My video report:

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Mailbag: Why the dissonance between team reaction and fan reaction to Titans' performances?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Greetings people. Hope your weekend if off to a rousing start.

Onto the mail...

PK: It seems to me that the team is focused on winning, and at 7-4 and in first place in the AFC South, the Titans have done a good share of that. It seems to me that the fan base is focused on aesthetics and untapped potential, and given the inconsistent and limited offense, the Titans haven’t given them enough of that.TitansTogether

Are we at a point where winning isn’t enough, and how a team wins is the bigger story? I don’t think we are too far down that path yet. But I do think this season and the way the Nashville is reacting to these Titans might be giving us a glimpse into the direction things are heading.

Maybe it’s just a special thing for the Titans circa 2017 with Mike Mularkey at the helm.

The fact is, while Titans fans would kill for their team to be the Patriots, the

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Pickers picks: Seahawks, Saints, Jordan Howard, DeMarco Murray

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The won-loss records below got a lot prettier last week, when I made six calls in this space and hit on five of them.

The one miss was gigantic, but let’s not dwell…

Games of the week (4-3-1)

Seattle +5.5 vs. Philadelphia

I like the Eagles, like everyone. What’s not to like. But I don’t think they go to Seattle and win big like they’ve been doing. They may win, but it’ll be under this number against a home dog at a great home.

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Better tackling at the core of Titans' defensive resurgence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After the Week 4 monster loss at Houston, the Titans ranked 29th overall in defense.

It’s been a steady climb to respectability since then, and after their 20-16 win at Indianapolis in Week 12, they stand 11th.

A big part of the 18-spot rise has been far sounder tackling.

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“Some guys think it’s the hit more than the tackle, they think guys are going to go down just because you hit them, or you hit them low,” Mularkey said. “You’ve got to wrap up. We have been better, yes.”

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There is a limit to play-action and option plays for Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are good on play-action and they are good when Marcus Mariota has a run-pass option, most of which come out of option plays.

So the temptation is to demand more of both.

And the Titans should do more.MularkeyStanceIND

But there is a line after which they’d probably get diminishing returns.

We have a number, we’re pretty good about sticking to it,” Mike Mularkey said. “It’s not as easy as you think. We want to be good at what we have. The more you do, the less you can practice it, the less effective you can be…

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