The countdown to kickoff continues.
The Tennessee Titans will open the 2020 regular season Sept. 14 at Denver. That is 15 days away. So, today we look at one way the number 15 figures into the team’s recent history.
It was not just a comeback. It was a sign of things to come.
In the 1999 season-opener, the first game in which the franchise was known as the Tennessee Titans, Steve McNair led the offense on a seven-play, 34-yard drive capped by a game-winning field goal with eight seconds to play.
It was the first of 15 game-winning drives McNair produced between 1999 and 2005. That number ranks first among all of the franchise’s quarterbacks over the past 21 years. Vince Young is next with 12 followed by Marcus Mariota with 11. No one else has had more than six.
The 36-35 victory over Cincinnati in the official opening of Nissan Stadium, actually was a redux of sorts. McNair became the Titans’ starter in 1997, when the franchise was known as the Tennessee Oilers and showed immediately what he could do in pressure situations. He authored a game-winning drive in that season’s opener as well, (in overtime, in that case).
The 1999 campaign was a fresh start for the franchise and McNair got it going the same way he did two years earlier. He completed all three passes he attempted for 22 yards and ran twice for three yards to set up Al Del Greco’s decisive 33-yard kick.
McNair led the Titans on at least one game-winning drive every year he was their starting quarterback, including in back-to-back games early in 2001 (Tampa Bay and Detroit). He did it multiple times against six clubs, including Pittsburgh, which he got twice in one season (2000).
For his career, he had 21 game-winning drives in all. The last, coincidentally, was against Tennessee. In his 2006 return to Nissan Stadium as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, he completed three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown on a fourth-quarter drive that capped the scoring in a 27-26 Ravens’ victory.
Even in a different uniform, he was the same guy when the game was on the line.