On the first play of Sunday's game, Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck spotted Kenny Britt standing like Maria Von Trapp in that iconic scene from The Sound of Music: arms extended, nothing but acres of green grass around him, not another soul in sight.
Hasselbeck fired the ball. Britt caught it. Life was beautiful. It looked like a golden day for the Two-Toners ... for about two seconds.
Then Bears defender Charles Tillman thrust his ax handle of an arm at the ball. It fell to the turf. Bears' ball.
And Bears' ballgame.
The 57:52 that followed Sunday wasn't at all like The Sound of Music. It was the sound of murder. If the rest of the game resembled anything in movies, it was The Untouchables. The Titans pulled a knife; the Bears pulled a gun. That's the Chicago way.
Any premonitions the Titans might fall backwards into a decent season burned in Sunday's Chicago fire. A cold November wind swept away the ashes after their disastrous 51-20 loss at LP Field, a public immolation that somehow was even more lopsided than the score indicated.
The Bears scored on defense and on special teams. They forced five turnovers — Tillman himself forced four fumbles. Chicago scored 28 points in little more than five minutes in the first quarter. The Titans' implosion was calamitous and thorough. The safety they scored via a Bears penalty only punctuated the shambolic nature of it all.
There were plenty of Bears fans at kickoff. By halftime, they seemed even more numerous. The visitors celebrated their comprehensive conquering with visible and vocal vigor, leaving the Titans to slink home.
It was, in short, the most embarrassing home loss since the Titans moved to town. Only the 59-0 loss at New England in 2009 was more mortifying. The Fiasco at Foxboro was the beginning of the end for the Jeff Fisher regime in Nashville. Afterwards, there was little the team could do that wasn't qualified with an unspoken, "Yeah, but ..."
Thus it will be with the 2012 Titans. There may be flashes of success in the next two months — after all, the team gets to play Jacksonville. There may be small victories — Chris Johnson's rejuvenation is already a pleasant surprise. The decision to re-insert Jake Locker as quarterback when he's healthy was made a lot easier Sunday, and the second-year man may show signs of growth.
Yeah, but ...
Fans weren't the only ones befouled in this real-life Charmin commercial as the Bears daintily wiped themselves with the Two-Toners. Absentee octogenarian owner Bud Adams told The Tennessean it was the most disappointing home game he'd ever seen. He said Mike Munchak and his staff were "grossly outcoached."
He was among the many Titans fans who left early — he said he flew back to Houston in the third quarter.
In short, he put the entire organization on notice.
But Adams should have noticed before Sunday: This isn't a very good team. The defense can't tackle. The offense is disjointed. It stalls as often as it sprints, like a muscle car with a wonky throttle.
The thrilling win against Detroit, the surprising win against the Steelers, and the expected win at Buffalo merely perpetuated a fraud: that the Titans would be competitive in 2012. Their true colors showed Sunday, leaving the team exposed as hapless, error-prone and identity-free.
The aging Adams may have little patience. But if the crowd Sunday was any indication, Titans fans have even less.
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