The image of Kevin Dyson stretching to reach the end zone, only to fall a yard short of the first overtime in Super Bowl history, is one the Tennessee Titans can’t shake.
And they don’t want to until they can call themselves champions.
“Our motivation this year is not only do we want to get there, we don’t want to come up one yard short,” receiver Derrick Mason said. “Anything less than the Super Bowl is going to be a disappointment.”
The Titans certainly are on track to become the first AFC team to return to the Super Bowl after losing the previous year since the Buffalo Bills’ four-peat ended in 1994. Tennessee has the NFL’s best record at 13-3, won its first AFC Central title since 1993 and enjoyed a bye this weekend as the AFC’s top seed.
Credit their 23-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams in perhaps the most thrilling finish to a Super Bowl.
The Titans fully expected to tie the game when Steve McNair found Dyson slanting across the middle on the final play. But Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackled Dyson and held on for dear life, stopping him at the 1. Dyson finally quit struggling once he realized he couldn’t break free with no time left on the clock.
After the Titans wandered into the locker room dazed by defeat, coach Jeff Fisher pounced on the play, reminding them how they came just 36 inches from forcing overtime--and perhaps winning the championship.
Tight end Frank Wycheck recalled Fisher saying: “This is going to have to be our focal point, and how hard you work in the offseason, think about this moment right now--how it feels to come up a yard short--and work that much harder to get back and finish the job.”
That yard pushed the Titans through February and March when they headed to gyms on their own as part of the team’s offseason workouts, and then into May and June minicamps.