Established.... April 14, 1960
First Season.... 1960 with American Football League Eastern / AFC Central 1970 / South 2002.
Stadium..... Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee
Conference..... American Football Conference Central 1970-2001 / South 2002-present
Team Nicknames..... Titanics, Titties, Colossals
1st Game Against BUCS..... Sunday, September 12, 1976
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers first ever franchise game in history was the debut against the Tennessee Titans (who at the time were the Houston Oilers) on Sunday, September 12, 1976 during an away game in the Astrodome, losing 00-20.
The Buccaneers played the Titans several times in pre-season leading the series.
Below click on ANY date to view extensive details of all gameday encounters. We have featured details of each opponent, highlights of each games statistics, players, scoring details, media coverage, photographs with a detailed game report. Below the listed dates we also include full details of the Opponent.
|ALL GAMES vs. TITANS (H=home @=away)|
|@||Sep. 12, 1976||L||00-20||@||Oct. 19, 1980||L||14-20||H||Nov. 27, 1983||W||33-24|
|@||Dec. 10, 1989||L||17-20||@||Oct. 29, 1995||L||07-19||H||Nov. 08, 1998||L||22-31|
|@||Oct. 14, 2001||L||28-31||@||Dec. 28, 2003||L||13-33||H||Oct. 14, 2007||W||13-10|
|@||Nov. 27, 2011||L||17-23||H||Sep. 13, 2015||L||14-42||@||* Oct. 27, 2019||L||23-27|
|PLAYOFF GAMES vs. TITANS (H=home @=away)|
|NFC Championship||Score||NFC Championship||Score||NFC Championship||Score|
The Tennessee Titans are based in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) South division. Previously known as the Houston Oilers, the team began play in 1960 in Houston, Texas, as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). The Oilers won the first two AFL Championships, and joined the NFL as part of the AFL–NFL merger in 1970.
The team relocated from Houston to Tennessee in 1997, and played at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis for one season. The club moved to Nashville in 1998 and played in Vanderbilt Stadium. For those two years, the team was known as the "Tennessee Oilers", but changed its name to "Titans" in 1999. The Titans' training facility is at Saint Thomas Sports Park, a 31-acre (13 ha) site at the MetroCenter complex in Nashville.
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Mascot, Cheerleaders & Community
T-Rac is the official mascot of the NFL's Tennessee Titans. He is a raccoon, the state animal of Tennessee.
T-Rac’s path to become the mascot for the Tennessee Titans has taken some interesting and crazy turns. His parents, who are from the Great Smokey Mountains, moved to Centennial park in Nashville when they heard the Titans were coming to town. T-Rac was born in the Parthenon and he grew up hunting ravens and jaguars along the Cumberland River while watching the Coliseum being built.
T-Rac’s dream was to live and play in the Coliseum. His dream almost didn’t come true when he was run over by the Titans Bus saving his sister while he was on his way to the first ever scrimmage at the Coliseum. The burly T-Rac escaped with only a broken claw and a smooshed fluffy tail. T-Rac and Titans owner Bud Adams became friends almost immediately. He was offered a job changing the light bulbs in the big red things above the Coliseum because T-Rac was the only one fearless and crazy enough to take the job. Eventually the Titans wanted a mascot to represent the team and state. The Raccoon, after all, is the official state animal of Tennessee and T-Rac’s goofy and energetic antics made him the perfect fit. When he was offered a three figure signing bonus he accepted, was delivered to the stadium with much fanfare, and the rest is history.
The Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders are the cheerleading squad of the Tennessee Titans. The squad performs a variety of dance moves during home games at the home Stadium, and performs with Titans mascot T-Rac, as well as their junior squad. The squad was established in 1975 as the Derrick Dolls, and changed to the current name when the Titans (then known as the Oilers) moved to Tennessee.
The group currently has 25 cheerleaders. The squad also makes USO trips, with the members making trips to Kuwait and Diego Garcia for their All-Star Super Bowl Tour. The squad holds auditions at Baptist Sports Park. Other than performances on the home field, the squad also has made appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "The Dr. Oz Show". Annually, the squad makes a swimsuit calendar. The squad also makes appearances off the field.
The Tennessee Titans, along with the incredible support of our partners at Titans Radio, conduct an annual Caravan that travels throughout Tennessee, southern Kentucky and northern Alabama. We have visited nearly 400 cities in five states and made over 450 total stops. We've traveled more than 50,000 total miles and taken thousands of pictures. Our players have signed tens of thousands of autographs and shaken approximately 100,000 hands at no cost to our fans. Why? Because we absolutely love our fans! That's the story of the long history of the Tennessee Titans Caravan. It's about bringing the Tennessee Titans out to the fans of the Mid-South to say thank you for your support! No other team in professional sports undertakes a project of this size and magnitude. Not one.
Many of the Titans Caravan visits are public stops at shopping malls, businesses, town squares and community centers where people can meet and greet the Titans player(s) and members of the Titans Radio broadcast team. Schools are visited with the Titans presenting a program entitled Making Good Choices designed for those in elementary school. We also visit with soldiers and their families at Fort Campbell, KY, home of the 101st Airborne Division, who have been annual stop of the Titans Caravan.
When the team debuted as the Houston Oilers in 1960, the club's logo was an oil rig derrick. Except for minor color changes throughout the years, this logo remained the same until the team was renamed the Titans in 1999. The logo was originally called "Ol' Riggy", but this was dropped before the start of the 1974 season.
The Oilers' uniforms consisted of blue or white jerseys, red trim, and white pants. From 1966 through 1971, the pants with both the blue and white jerseys were silver, to match the color of the helmets. The team commonly wore light blue pants on the road with the white jerseys from 1972 through 1994, with the exception of the 1980 season, and selected games in the mid 80s, when the team wore an all-white road combination. For selected games in 1973 and 1974, and again from 1981 through 1984, the Oilers wore their white jerseys at home. The light blue pants were discarded by coach Jeff Fisher in 1995.
From 1960 to about 1965 and from 1972 to 1974, they wore blue helmets; from 1966 to 1971, the helmets were silver; and they were white from 1975 to 1998.
During the 1997–98 period, when they were known as the "Tennessee Oilers", the team had an alternate logo that combined elements of the flag of Tennessee with the derrick logo. The team also wore their white uniforms in home games, as opposed to their time in Houston, when their blue uniforms were worn at home – in the two years as the Tennessee Oilers, the team only wore their colored jerseys twice, for road games against the Miami Dolphins and a Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys.
When the team was renamed the Titans, the club introduced a new logo: a circle with three stars, similar to that found on the flag of Tennessee, containing a large "T" with a trail of flames similar to a comet. The uniforms consist of white helmets, red trim, and either navy or white jerseys. White pants are normally worn with the navy jerseys, and navy pants are worn with the white jerseys. On both the navy and white jerseys, the outside shoulders and sleeves are light "Titans blue". In a game against the Washington Redskins in 2006, the Titans wore their navy jerseys with navy pants for the first time.
Since 2000, the Titans have generally worn their dark uniforms at home throughout the preseason and regular season. They have worn white at home during daytime contests on many occasions for September home games to gain an advantage with the heat except in the 2005, 2006, and 2008 seasons.
The Titans introduced an alternate jersey in 2003 that is light "Titans blue", with navy outside shoulders and sleeves. That jersey was usually worn with the road blue pants. When it was the alternate jersey from 2003 to 2007, the Titans wore the jersey twice in each regular season game (and once in the preseason). They always wore the "Titans blue" jersey in their annual divisional game against the Houston Texans and for other selected home games which came mostly against a team from the old AFL (American Football League). Their selection in those games were representative of the organization's ties to Houston and the old AFL. In November 2006, the Titans introduced light "Titans blue" pants in a game at the Philadelphia Eagles. The pants were reminiscent of the ones donned by the Oilers. In December 2006, they combined the "Titans blue" pants with the "Titans blue" jersey to create an all "Titans blue" uniform – Vince Young appeared in this uniform in the cover art for the Madden NFL 08 video game.
During the 2006 season, the Titans wore seven different uniform combinations, pairing the white jersey with all three sets of pants (white, "Titans blue", navy blue), the navy jersey with the white and navy pants, and the "Titans blue" jersey with navy and Titans blue pants. In a 2007 against the Atlanta Falcons, the Titans paired the navy blue jersey with the Titans blue pants for the first time. They also wore the navy blue jerseys with the light blue pants against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team paired the Titans blue jerseys with the white pants for the first time on November 14, 2013, in a home game against the Indianapolis Colts.
In 2009, the NFL and the Hall of Fame committee announced that the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills would begin the 2009 NFL preseason in the Hall of Fame Game. The game, played on Sunday, August 9, 2009, at Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium, was nationally televised on NBC. The Titans defeated the Bills by a score of 21–18. In honor of the AFL's 50th anniversary, the Titans wore Oilers' uniforms for this game. Also in 2009, the team honored former quarterback Steve McNair by placing a small, navy blue disc on the back of their helmets with a white number nine inside of it (nine was the number McNair wore during his time with the Oilers/Titans).
From 2009 to 2012, the Titans did not wear an alternate jersey during any regular season games. It was not until 2013 that the team wore the navy blue jerseys twice in honor of the 15th anniversary as the "Titans." The Titans wore white jerseys for all games in 2014, for the exceptions of two preseason home games, in which the team wore their light "Titans blue" jerseys, and an October 26, 2014, game against the Houston Texans, in which the Titans wore their navy blue uniforms.
Beginning in 2015, navy blue became the team's primary home jersey color, marking the first time since 2007 that the Titans wore navy as their primary home jersey, though the team plans to continue wearing white jerseys for early-season hot-weather home games. The light "Titans blue" jersey, which was the team's primary jersey color from 2008 to 2014, became the team's alternate jersey for a second time.
John O'Quinn Field at Corbin J. Robertson Stadium (often referred to as simply Robertson Stadium) was a multi-purpose stadium in Houston, located on the campus of the University of Houston. It was the home of the Houston Cougars football and women's soccer teams. The stadium was the first home for the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer from 2006 to 2011, as well as the first home of the American Football League's Houston Oilers from 1960 to 1964.
On January 1, 1961, it hosted the American Football League Championship Game (for the 1960 title). The Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Chargers (24–16) to become the league's first champions. It was also the site for pro football's first ever double-overtime game on December 23, 1962. The Oilers lost to the Dallas Texans (20–17) in that year's AFL title game. This was the only overtime game in the 10-year history of the AFL.
The stadium's capacity was 32,000. The stadium's record attendance in its final configuration was set at 32,413, when Houston hosted the 2011 Conference USA Championship Game on December 3.
1965-1967: Rice Stadium
Rice Stadium is an American football stadium located on the Rice University campus in Houston, Texas. It has been the home of the Rice Owls football team since its completion in 1950 and hosted Super Bowl VIII in 1974 and the home field for the Houston Oiliers from 1965-1667.
Architecturally, Rice Stadium is an example of modern architecture, with simple lines and an unadorned, functional design. The lower seating bowl is located below the surrounding ground level. Built solely for football, the stadium has excellent sightlines from almost every seat. It is still recognized in many circles as the best stadium in Texas for watching a football game. Entrances and aisles were strategically placed so that the entire stadium could be emptied of spectators in nine minutes.
In 2006, Rice University upgraded the facility by switching from AstroTurf to FieldTurf and adding a modern scoreboard above the north concourse. Seating in the upper deck is in poor condition, which led the university to move home games for which large crowds were expected to nearby NRG Stadium.
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The NRG Astrodome, also known as the Houston Astrodome or simply The Astrodome, is the world's first multi-purpose, domed sports stadium, located in Houston, Texas. Construction on the stadium began in 1962, and it officially opened in 1965. It served as home to the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB) from its opening in 1965 until 1999, and the home to the Houston Oilers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1968 until 1996, and also the part-time home of the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1971 until 1975. Additionally, the Astrodome was the primary venue of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo from 1966 until 2002. When opened, it was named the Harris County Domed Stadium and was nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World".
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, originally Memphis Memorial Stadium, is a football stadium located at the former Mid-South Fairgrounds in the Midtown area of Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The stadium is the site of the annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and is the home field of the University of Memphis Tigers football team. It has also been the host of several attempts at professional sports in the city, as well as other local football games and other gatherings.
Vanderbilt Stadium is a football stadium located in Nashville, Tennessee. Completed in 1922 (then named Dudley Field) as the first stadium in the South to be used exclusively for college football, it is the home of the Vanderbilt University football team. Vanderbilt Stadium hosted the Tennessee Oilers (now Titans) and the first Music City Bowl in 1998 and also hosted the Tennessee state high school football championships for many years.Embed from Getty Images
Vanderbilt Stadium is the smallest football stadium in the Southeastern Conference, and was the largest stadium in Nashville until the completion of the Titans' Nissan Stadium in 1999.
Upon moving to Nashville, the Oilers/Titans franchise initially played at the larger Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis while Nissan Stadium (then called Adelphia Coliseum) was under construction in Nashville. Initially, the Oilers were unwilling to play at Vanderbilt Stadium while Nissan Stadium was being built. Not only was it thought to be too small even for temporary use, but university officials were unwilling to allow the sale of alcohol.
However, dismal attendance during the 1997 season— due in part to both the unwillingness of many Nashville fans to make the trip to Memphis and Memphis fans indifferent to football in general after years of failing to secure their own NFL franchise— led the Oilers to play their last season under that name in Nashville at Vanderbilt Stadium, although the university forbade the franchise from selling alcohol at home games.
Vanderbilt Stadium thus became the smallest home venue in the NFL since several similar-size stadiums were used in 1970. (The merger agreement with the American Football League led the NFL to declare stadiums seating fewer than 50,000, such as Fenway Park, to be inadequate for league play and after the 1970 NFL season none were used for NFL games on a long-term basis.) The Los Angeles Chargers will use a smaller venue, the StubHub Center in Carson, California, as its home for the 2017 thru 2019 seasons while a new stadium in the Los Angeles area is being built for the Chargers and Los Angeles Rams, with opening scheduled in 2020.
Nissan Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, owned by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. It is primarily used for football and is the home field of the Tennessee Titans and the Tennessee State Tigers of Tennessee State University. The stadium is also the site of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, a postseason college football bowl game played each December, and is occasionally used as a venue for soccer matches. Nissan Stadium is used for large concerts, such as the CMA Music Festival nightly concerts which take place for four days every June. Facilities are included to enable the stadium to host other public events, meetings, parties, and gatherings.
Nissan Stadium is located on the east bank of the Cumberland River, directly across the river from downtown Nashville and has a listed seating capacity of 69,143. Its first event was a preseason game between the Titans and the Atlanta Falcons on August 27, 1999. Since opening in 1999 it has been known by multiple names, including Adelphia Coliseum from 1999 to 2002, The Coliseum from 2002 to 2006, and LP Field from 2006 to 2015.
The stadium features three levels of seating, with the lower bowl completely encompassing the field. The club and upper levels form the stadium's dual towers, rising above the lower bowl along each sideline. All of the stadium's luxury suites are located within the towers. Three levels of suites are located in the stadium's eastern tower: one between the lower and club levels, and two between the club and upper levels. The western tower has only two levels of suites, both between the club and upper levels. The pressbox is located between the lower and club levels in the western tower. Nissan Stadium's dual videoboards are located behind the lower bowl in each end zone.
The playing surface of Nissan Stadium is Tifsport Bermuda Sod, a natural grass. However, the relatively warm climate of Nashville, combined with the wear and tear of hosting a game nearly every weekend, usually results in a resodding of the area "between the hashes" in late November.
The Titans have posted an impressive record at Nissan Stadium since moving there in 1999, including winning their first 16 games before losing to the Baltimore Ravens on November 12, 2000. Overall, the Titans are 45–27 in the regular season and 2–2 in playoff games at Nissan Stadium. Every Titans home game (including preseason) has been a sellout since the stadium opened in 1999. This is due to fans purchasing season tickets associated with the personal seat licenses each season ticketholder must own. The seat licenses helped finance construction of the stadium. There is a long waiting list for personal seat licenses, as well as season tickets.
The football team now known as the Tennessee Titans previously played in Houston, Texas, from 1960 to 1996. The Oilers began play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). The team won two AFL championships before joining the NFL as part of the AFL–NFL merger in the late 1960s.
The Oilers competed in the East Division (along with Buffalo, New York and Boston) of the AFL before the merger, after which they joined the newly formed AFC Central. The Oilers throughout their existence were owned by Bud Adams and played their home games at the Astrodome for the majority of their time in Houston (Jeppesen Stadium and Rice Stadium hosted the Oilers for their first eight years).
The Oilers were the first champions of the American Football League, winning the 1960 and 1961 contests, but never again won another championship. The Oilers appeared in the 1962 AFL Championship, losing in double overtime to their in-state rivals, the Dallas Texans; they also won the AFL East Division title in 1967 and qualified for the AFL Playoffs in 1969, both times losing to the Oakland Raiders. From 1978 to 1980, the Oilers, led by Bum Phillips and in the midst of the Luv Ya Blue campaign, appeared in the 1978 and 1979 AFC Championship Games (but lost both). The Oilers were a consistent playoff team from 1987 to 1993, an era that included both of the Oilers' only division titles (1991 and 1993), as well as the dubious distinction of being on the losing end of the largest comeback in NFL history. For the rest of the Oilers' time in Houston, however, they were generally in the second division of the league, compiling losing seasons in almost every year outside the aforementioned high points.
The Oilers' main colors were Columbia blue and white, with scarlet trim, while their logo was a simple derrick. Oilers jerseys were always Columbia blue for home and white for away. The helmet color was Columbia blue with a white derrick from 1960 through 1965, silver with a Columbia blue derrick from 1966 through 1971, and Columbia blue with a white and scarlet derrick from 1972 through 1974, before changing to a white helmet with a Columbia blue derrick beginning in 1975 and lasting the remainder of the team's time in Houston.
Owner Bud Adams, who had openly threatened to move the team since the late 1980s, relocated the Oilers to Tennessee after the 1996 season, where they were known as the Tennessee Oilers for the 1997 and 1998 seasons. The Oilers played the 1997 season in Memphis before moving to Nashville in 1998. In 1999, to coincide with the opening of their new stadium, Adams changed the team name to the Tennessee Titans and the color scheme from Columbia Blue, Scarlet, and White to Titans Blue, Navy, White, and Silver with scarlet accents. The new Titans franchise retained the Oilers' team history and records, while the team name was officially retired by then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, thus preventing a future Houston NFL team from using the name.
The Houston Oilers began in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League. They were owned by Bud Adams, a Houston oilman, who had made several previous unsuccessful bids for an NFL expansion team in Houston. Adams was an influential member of the eight original AFL owners, since he, Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt and Buffalo Bills founder Ralph Wilson were more financially stable than the other five (all three would go on to own their franchises for over forty years, whereas the others pulled out by the 1980s).
The Oilers appeared in the first three AFL championships. They scored an important victory over the NFL when they signed LSU's Heisman Trophy winner, All-America running back Billy Cannon. Cannon joined other Oiler offensive stars such as quarterback George Blanda, flanker Charlie Hennigan, running back Charlie Tolar, and guard Bob Talamini. After winning the first-ever AFL championship over the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960, they repeated over the same team (then in San Diego) in 1961. (In 2012, the retail outlet Old Navy earned infamy for selling a shirt that misidentified the 1961 AFL champions as the Houston Texans, who did not exist until 2002.) They lost to the Dallas Texans in the classic 1962 double-overtime AFL championship game, at the time the longest professional football championship game ever played. In 1962, the Oilers were the first AFL team to sign an active NFL player away from the other league, when wide receiver Willard Dewveall left the Bears to join the champion Oilers. Dewveall that year caught the longest pass reception for a touchdown in professional American football history, 99 yd, from Jacky Lee, against the San Diego Chargers.
The Oilers won the AFL Eastern Division title again in 1967, then became the first professional football team to play in a domed stadium, when they moved into Houston's Astrodome then home of the Houston Astros of the MLB for the 1968 season. Previously, the Oilers had played at Jeppesen Stadium at the University of Houston (now called Robertson Stadium) from 1960 to 1964, and Rice University's stadium from 1965 to 1967. Adams had intended the team play at Rice from the first, but Rice's board of regents initially rejected the move. After the Astrodome opened for business, Adams attempted to move there, but could not negotiate an acceptable lease with the Houston Sports Association (owners of the Houston Astros) from whom he would sublease the Dome. The 1969 season, the last as an AFL team, saw Houston begin 3–1, but tumble afterwards. They qualified for the playoffs, but were defeated by the Raiders 56–7, to finish the year with a record of 6–7–2.
The years immediately after the AFL-NFL Merger were not as kind to the Oilers, who sank to the bottom of the AFC Central division. After going 3–10–1 in 1970, they went 4–9–1 in 1971, and then suffered back-to-back 1–13 seasons in 1972–73. But by 1974, the Oilers led by Hall of Fame coach Sid Gillman brought the team back to respectability by reaching .500 at season's end.
The next year, Bum Phillips arrived and with talented stars like Elvin Bethea and Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, the Oilers had their first winning season of the decade going 10–4 but did not make the playoffs. Injuries and inadequate offense doomed them to a 5–9 season in 1976, but the team improved to 8–6 the following year, and in 1978, the Oilers' fortunes improved when they drafted University of Texas football star Earl Campbell, known as the "Tyler Rose", who was Rookie of the Year that year and led the Oilers to their first playoff appearance since the merger.
Defeating Miami in the wild-card round, they then trumped New England, leading to immediately rebuilding of the Patriots. But in the AFC Championship, the Steelers routed them 34–5. In spite of the lopsided defeat, the Oilers returned home to a packed Astrodome for a pep-rally uncommon in professional sports.
The 1979 season was a near rerun of 1978 as the Oilers finished 11–5 with Campbell gaining 1600 yards in the regular season, and again earned a wild card spot. Beating the Broncos in the first home playoff game in Houston in over a decade, the Oilers' performance suffered with injuries to Campbell, Pastorini and Burroughs. They did manage to edged past the high-flying San Diego of Dan Fouts in the divisional round, partly thanks to the play of Vernon Perry (4 INTs and a blocked FG) as well as the outstanding line coached by Joe Bugel. The Oilers returned to the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row, only to get knocked down by the Pittsburgh Steelers again, in spite of a terrific effort by Dan Pastorini – The Steelers had shut the ailing Campbell down, yet Pastorini nearly succeeded with the modest receiving corps of Mike Renfro, Rich Caster, and Ronnie Coleman venturing into the Steelers Hall of Fame defense. A controversial out-of-bounds call nullified a touchdown by wide receiver Mike Renfro resulting in a 27–13 victory for Pittsburgh. Once again, after a tough loss, the Oilers returned to their then adoring fans who packed the Astrodome for an impromptu pep-rally for the second year in a row.
1980 saw the Oilers go 11–5 and achieve a wild card spot for the third year in a row, but they were quickly vanquished by Oakland, 27–7. Bud Adams fired Bum Phillips, who was succeeded by Ed Biles. Afterwards began a long playoff drought as the Oilers fell to 7–9 in 1981, and 1–8 in the strike-shortened 1982 season. In 1983, Houston went 2–14. Biles resigned in Week 6 and was succeeded by Chuck Studley, who served merely as an interim coach until Hugh Campbell was hired in the off-season. In 1984, the Oilers won a bidding war for CFL player Warren Moon but didn't return to the playoffs that year either, with two wins and fourteen losses. The aging Earl Campbell was traded to New Orleans during the off-season and was replaced by Mike Rozier from University of Nebraska. In week 14 of the 1985 season, Hugh Campbell was replaced by Jerry Glanville, who saw the team through the last two games to finish 5–11. A 31–3 rout of Green Bay on the 1986 season opener looked promising, but in the end Houston only managed another 5–11 record. Another strike in 1987 reduced the season to 15 games, three by substitute players. After ending 9–6, the team achieved its first winning record and playoff berth in seven years. After beating the Seahawks in overtime, they fell to Denver in the divisional round. Going 10–6 in 1988, the Oilers again got into the playoffs as a wild card, beat Cleveland in a snowy 24–23 match, and then lost to Buffalo a week later. 1989 saw a 9–7 regular season, but the team gained a wild card. In a messy, penalty-ridden game, they were beaten by Pittsburgh.
The Oilers' resurgence came in the midst of a battle for the franchise's survival. In 1987, Adams threatened to move the team to Jacksonville, Florida (later the home of Jacksonville Jaguars) unless the Astrodome was "brought up to date". At the time the Astrodome seated about 50,000 fans, the smallest capacity in the NFL. Not willing to lose the Oilers, Harris County responded with $67 million in improvements to the Astrodome that included new AstroTurf, 10,000 additional seats and 65 luxury boxes. These improvements were funded by increases in property taxes and the doubling of the hotel tax, as well as bonds to be paid over 30 years. However, Adams' increasing demands for greater and more expensive accommodations to be funded at taxpayer expense sowed seeds of tension that assisted the team's departure from Houston.
The Oilers briefly rose to become a league power once again in the first half of the 1990s. In 1991, the Oilers won their first division title in 25 years, and their first as an NFL team. However, only two minutes away from their first conference title game in 13 years, they were the victims of an 80-yard march by John Elway and the Denver Broncos before David Treadwell kicked a 28-yard field goal to win the game 26–24. In 1992, the Oilers compiled a 10–6 regular season record, but made history against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card playoffs by blowing an NFL record 35–3 lead and eventually losing 41–38 in overtime, a game now known simply as "The Comeback."
In the 1993 season, the Oilers finished with a 12–4 record, their best record ever in Texas, and another AFC Central title, but lost in the second round to the Chiefs. After the season ended, Moon was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. Without Moon, the Oilers finished the next season 2–14, the third-worst record for a full season in franchise history. The Oilers would never make the playoffs again in Texas. However, they did draft Steve McNair in 1995.
At the same time, Adams again lobbied the city for a new stadium, one with club seating and other revenue generators present in recently–built NFL stadiums, and he committed to pay for 25% of the cost of a new stadium. However, Mayor Bob Lanier initially supported Adams' bid for a new stadium privately, but refused to publicly support the project. Although Houstonians wanted to keep the Oilers, they were leery of investing more money on a stadium so soon after the Astrodome improvements. The city was also still struggling to recover from the oil collapse of the 1980s. Adams, sensing that he was not going to get the stadium he wanted, began shopping the Oilers to other cities. He was particularly intrigued by Nashville, and opened secret talks with mayor Phil Bredesen. At the end of the 1995 season, Adams announced that the Oilers would be moving to Nashville for the 1998 season. City officials there promised to contribute $144 million toward a new stadium, as well as $70 million in ticket sales. At that point, support for the Oilers in the Houston area all but disappeared.
The 1996 season was a disaster for the Oilers; they played before crowds of fewer than 20,000 and games were so quiet that it was possible to hear conversations on the field from the grandstand. Meanwhile, the team's radio network, which once stretched across the state, was reduced to flagship KTRH in Houston and a few affiliates in Tennessee. By October 1996, KTRH was cutting off games prior to their finish in favor of the Houston Rockets pre-game show. The team went 8–8, finishing 6–2 in road games and only 2–6 in home games. Adams, the city and the league were unwilling to see this continue for another season, so a deal was reached on May 8, 1997 to let the Oilers out of their lease a year early and move to Tennessee.
In 1999, Robert McNair was awarded, at a cost of $1 billion, an expansion team which replaced the Oilers in Houston. The franchise became the Houston Texans, which adopted a similar red, white and blue team color tandem and inherited the sports complex the Oilers had played in, but not the Oilers' former home; NRG Stadium would be built next door to the Astrodome in 2002.
The NFL would return to Houston in 2002 with a new franchise, the Houston Texans.
After fan support in Houston collapsed for the 1996 season, the Oilers announced they would be moving to Tennessee for 1997. The Oilers' new stadium would not be ready until 1999, however, and the largest stadium in Nashville at the time, Vanderbilt Stadium on the campus of Vanderbilt University, seated only 41,000 — a capacity deemed too small for even temporary use. Vanderbilt was also unwilling to permit alcohol sales. At first, owner Bud Adams rejected Vanderbilt Stadium even as a temporary facility and announced that the renamed Tennessee Oilers would play the next two seasons at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis. The team would be based in Nashville, commuting to Memphis only for games—essentially sentencing the Oilers to 32 road games for the next two years. The University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium, in Knoxville, was slightly closer to Nashville. However, Adams rejected it because at 102,000 seats, it would have been all but impossible to sell out.
Even though this arrangement was acceptable to the NFL and the Oilers at the time, few people in either Memphis or Nashville were happy about it. After numerous attempts to get an NFL team, Memphians wanted nothing to do with a team that would be lost in only two years—especially to longtime rival Nashville. Conversely, Nashvillians showed little inclination to drive over 200 miles (320 km) to see "their" team. At the time, Interstate 40 was in the midst of major reconstruction in the Memphis area, lengthening the normal three-hour drive between Nashville and Memphis to five hours.
In Memphis, attendance was even worse than it had been in the team's final season in Houston. The Oilers played before some of the smallest NFL crowds since the 1950s, with none of the first seven games of the season attracting crowds larger than 27,000 (in a 62,000-seat stadium). The few fans there were usually indifferent, and often those that attended were fans of the opposing team. On at least two occasions, fewer than 18,000 fans came to the stadium to see the Oilers. Attendance was smaller than it what the USFL's Memphis Showboats had drawn and what the XFL's Memphis Maniax would draw to the same stadium, and if not for the attendance of fans supporting the Oilers' opponents, attendance would likely have even been smaller than it was for the CFL's Memphis Mad Dogs. Despite this, Adams had every intention of playing in Memphis the next season. That changed after the final game of the 1997 season. The Oilers faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in front of 50,677 fans—the only crowd that could not have been reasonably accommodated at Vanderbilt. However, Steeler fans made up the great majority of the crowd (at least three-fourths, by one estimate). Adams was so embarrassed that he abandoned plans to play the 1998 season in Memphis and ended up moving to Vanderbilt after all. The team rebounded that season, and was in playoff contention until losing their last two games for another 8–8 record. The Oilers had gone 6-2 in Memphis while going 2-6 on the road. In the years since, many in the Memphis area, like other areas of Tennessee, began to embrace the Titans as their team. The Titans have both radio and preseason TV affiliates in the area.
During the 1998 season, Adams announced that in response to fan requests, he was changing the Oilers' name to coincide with the opening of their new stadium and to better connect with Nashville. He also declared that the renamed team would retain the Oilers' heritage (including team records), as had all other relocated teams except the Browns/Ravens, and that there would be a Hall of Fame honoring the greatest players from both eras.
Adams appointed an advisory committee to decide on a new name. He let it be known that the new name should reflect power, strength, leadership and other heroic qualities. On December 22, Adams announced that the Oilers would be known as the Tennessee Titans starting in 1999. The new name met all of Adams' requirements, and also served as a nod to Nashville's nickname of "The Athens of the South" (for its large number of higher-learning institutions, Classical architecture, and its full-scale replica of the Parthenon).
In 1999, Adelphia Coliseum, now known as Nissan Stadium, was completed and the newly christened Titans had a grand season, finishing with a 13–3 record — the best season in franchise history. They won their first game as the "Titans," defeating the Bengals before a sold out stadium (Every game since the Titans moved to Nashville has been sold out). They did not lose a game at home and finished one game behind the Jacksonville Jaguars for the AFC Central title. Tennessee then won their first round playoff game over the Buffalo Bills on a designed play, known as "Home Run Throwback" in the Titans playbook, that is commonly referred to as the "Music City Miracle": Tight-end Frank Wycheck made a lateral pass to Kevin Dyson on a kickoff return with 16 seconds left in the game and the Titans trailing by one point; Dyson returned the pass 75 yards for a touchdown to win the game. After replay review, the call on the field was upheld as a touchdown. The original play did not call for Dyson to be on the field and he was only involved due to an injury of another player. The Titans went on to defeat the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, and then defeated the Jaguars in Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game. The Titans' magnificent season led to a trip to Super Bowl XXXIV, where they lost to the St. Louis Rams when Kevin Dyson was tackled one yard short of the end zone (preserving a 23-16 Rams' lead) as regulation time expired, in a play known as "The Tackle".
In 2000, the Titans finished with an NFL-best 13–3 record and won their third AFC Central title—their first division title as the Tennessee Titans. They won Central division titles in '91 and '93 while still in Houston as the Oilers. The Titans would go on to lose their home Divisional playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
In 2001, the Titans collapsed to a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs.
In 2002, the Titans were moved to the newly created AFC South division as a part of the league's divisional realignment caused by the addition of the Houston Texans. Despite starting the season 1–4 the Titans finished the season 11-5 and made it to the AFC Championship Game but lost to Oakland 41-24.
The Titans went 12-4 and made the 2003 playoffs, winning their wild card game over the Baltimore Ravens and losing in the AFC divisionals to the New England Patriots who went on to win the Super Bowl. In 2003, quarterback Steve McNair won the MVP award, sharing it with Peyton Manning.
The 2004 season created an unusual number of injuries to key players for the Titans and a 5–11 record. Their 5–11 record turned out to be their third-worst record ever since the Houston/Tennessee Oilers became the Tennessee Titans. Numerous key players were cut or traded by the Titans front office during the off season, including Derrick Mason, Samari Rolle, Kevin Carter, and others. This was done due to the Titans being well over the salary cap.
In 2005, the Titans took the field with the youngest team in the NFL. Several rookies made the 2005 team including first round pick, cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, offensive tackle Michael Roos, and three wide receivers, Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby, and Roydell Williams. After losing their first game of the season on the road to the Pittsburgh Steelers 34–7 and then winning their Week 2 home-opener against the Baltimore Ravens 25–10, the Titans began the season 1–1, but quickly fell out of contention. They lost on the road to the St. Louis Rams 31–27 and lost to their division rival, the Colts 31–10. After getting some redemption on the road against their new division rival, the Houston Texans 34–20, they lost five-straight games to the Cincinnati Bengals (31–23), the Arizona Cardinals (20–10), the Oakland Raiders (34–25), the Cleveland Browns (20–14), and then (coming off of their Week 10 bye), their division rival, the Jacksonville Jaguars 31–28. The Titans would win at home against the San Francisco 49ers 33–22, but then, they went on the road and got swept by the Colts 35–3. The Titans would sweep the luckless Texans 13–10 at home, but that would be their last win of the year, as they lost their remaining three games to the Seattle Seahawks (28–24), the Miami Dolphins (24–10), and the Jacksonville Jaguars (40–13). Their record for the season was 4–12.
In 2006, The team finished at 8–8, a definite improvement over the previous year's mark of 4–12. The year saw Vince Young lead the team to an 8–5 record as the starting quarterback. That span also included six straight victories. The team's chances of making the postseason at 9–7 ended at the hands of New England in a 40–23 defeat. Floyd Reese resigned as the franchise's Executive Vice President/General Manager on January 5, 2007 after thirteen seasons at the helm. He was replaced by Mike Reinfeldt on February 12 of the same year.
After starting a promising 6–2, the Titans lost four of their next five games to fall to 7–6. They then won their next three games including a must-win game against the Indianapolis Colts. They were tied for the final playoff spot with the Cleveland Browns, but they won the tiebreaker and made the playoffs at 10–6. In the wild card round they lost to the San Diego Chargers, 17–6.
The year began with the Titans selecting Chris Johnson out of East Carolina University in the first round of the NFL draft, and subsequently acquired former Titan (most recently Eagle) DE Jevon Kearse and former Falcons TE Alge Crumpler. After a Week 1 injury to Vince Young, Kerry Collins took over the starting quarterback position and led the Titans to a 10-0 record before their first defeat at the hands of the New York Jets on November 23.
The Titans followed up the 34-13 loss by defeating the winless Lions on Thanksgiving by a score of 47–10. In week 14, Tennessee clinched its second AFC South title with a 28-9 victory over the Cleveland Browns. In the week 14 game against the Browns, rookie Chris Johnson rushed 19 times for 136 yards and one touchdown and Lendale White rushed for 99 yards and one touchdown. They later clinched a first round playoff bye with a loss of the New York Jets. On December 21, 2008, the Titans played the Pittsburgh Steelers in a contest to decide the number one seed in the AFC. The Titans won 31-14 and clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Their final record was 13–3, which ties their franchise record for most wins. On Saturday, January 10, they lost their home playoff game 13–10 to the Baltimore Ravens, who had previously won their Wildcard game at Miami on January 4. The playoff game against Baltimore included three red zone turnovers and 12 penalties by the Titans.
After their successful 2008 season, the Titans looked to be very promising in 2009. However, the opening game against Pittsburgh resulted in a 13-10 overtime loss and things disintegrated from there as they dropped the next five matches. This losing streak culminated in a catastrophic 59-0 defeat at the hands of New England. After the bye week, it was decided that Vince Young would succeed Kerry Collins as the starting quarterback. The team began recovering and won five in a row including a game against the defending NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals, on a 99-yard game-winning drive by Vince Young, culminating in a touchdown pass on fourth down with 6 seconds left from the 10-yard line to Kenny Britt.
During the Week 10 home game against Buffalo, Bud Adams was seen making an obscene gesture towards the Bills bench, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (who was also attending the game) fined him $250,000. Afterwards, the Titans sustained a defeat against Indianapolis, wins over St. Louis and Miami, a loss to San Diego, and finally a victory in Seattle to end the season at 8-8. Not only did the Tennessee Titans have a great 8-2 finish, but along the way, running back Chris Johnson became only the sixth player in NFL history to rush for over 2000 yards (2,006), surpassing Marshall Faulk's record for the most yards from scrimmage during a season with over 2,500 total yards.
The Titans started 2010 with alternating wins and losses. They crushed Oakland at home in Week 1 and then were beaten 19-11 by the Steelers in Week 2. In Week 3, Tennessee beat the Giants 29-10 in the New Meadowlands. In week 4, Tennessee lost 26-20 to Denver, and finally won 34-27 in Dallas to reach a 3-2 record by Week 5. The following game was a MNF rout of Jacksonville (30-3). In Week 7, they beat Philadelphia 37-19 in a come-from- behind win that included scoring 27 points in the fourth quarter. Wide Receiver Kenny Britt had a break out performance with 225 reception yards, 3 touchdowns, and 7 receptions. However, after a loss to the Chargers in Week 8, they were the only team to submit in a claim for the recently waived Randy Moss. Even after this widely publicized claim, the team was still unable to beat the Dolphins after their bye week, 29-17. In Week 11, at home against the Washington Redskins, the Titans lost Young to a thumb injury in-game and they snapped their NFL-leading interconference win streak at 14 games, losing to Washington 19-16 in overtime. After the game, Young had a highly publicized meltdown in the locker room and walked out on Fisher, causing him to not only be promptly put on injured reserve, but also essentially guaranteeing his release from the team in the offseason. Losses continued to mount for the Titans, until a week 15 win against the Houston Texans kept their season alive at 6-8. Needing a miracle to get into the playoffs, this nonetheless happened with consequent losses against the Chiefs and Colts. The Titans' season ended at 6-10.
In the week following the Titans' final loss to the Colts, the generally pro-Young Bud Adams agreed that it would be best for the team to release or trade Young. On January 7, 2011 Adams released a statement announcing he would retain Coach Jeff Fisher, as Fisher was under contract for the next season. Adams also stated that he hoped to extend Fisher's contract following the 2011 season, but that an extension would be contingent upon the team's performance. Despite these initial proclamations, it was announced on January 27, 2011 that Fisher and the Titans had mutually agreed to part ways. This ended Fisher's tenure as Head Coach, a tenure which lasted more than 17 seasons, spanned three cities (Houston, Memphis, and Nashville), and saw three different incarnations of the team (Houston Oilers, Tennessee Oilers, Tennessee Titans).
Following the departure of former head coach Jeff Fisher, Mike Munchak was named head coach of the Titans on February 7, 2011. During the 2011 NFL Draft the Titans took Washington QB Jake Locker with the 8th pick overall. Meanwhile, 15-year veteran Kerry Collins retired from the NFL in July (unretiring a month later to join the Indianapolis Colts). On July 29, 2011 veteran Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck signed a 3-year, $21 million deal to play for the Tennessee Titans. During the summer training camp prior to the 2011 season, Chris Johnson did not show up to camp, pending contract negotiations. Johnson felt he was due a considerably larger sum of money. As the leading rusher since 2008 (4,598 yards) he was set to make $1.065 million in 2011, under current contract terms. On September 1, Johnson became the highest paid running back, agreeing to a four-year, $53.5 million contract extension, including $30 million guaranteed, with the Titans, ending his holdout.
With Hasselbeck starting, the Titans won three of their first four games, but afterwards saw a bumpy series of wins and losses. They finally finished the season 9-7, failing again to reach the playoffs, but remaining in contention to Week 17.
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