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Titans show what they are: resilient, flawed and likely a playoff team

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Sunday looked like most Tennessee Titans wins this season. It was an inconsistent offensive performance littered with mistakes and way too many excruciating roller-coaster loops for a game against a sub-.500 opponent. The defense played the familiar role of the hero, saving the day when the Titans needed it most. This time it was LeShaun Sims making a game-saving interception in the end zone.

But above all, it was a win -- something the Titans have done a lot of recently, winning six of their past seven games.

"It feels really good, but it’s not satisfying. That’s just a start," Marcus Mariota said. "Looking around the locker room, everyone kinda feels the same way. In order to get where we’re trying to go, we need to continue to put these together. 8-4 is not going to cut it."

Derrick Henry played his favorite role: the finisher. His 75-yard touchdown run put a cap on the Titans' 24-13 victory over the Houston Texans.

It won't win any style points, but the Titans keep winning their way. And by the way, Mariota had a quietly efficient day, going 15-of-23 for 150 yards and a touchdown. His legs were also a factor, adding 23 yards and a touchdown rushing.

What it means: The Titans are 8-4, and, barring a late collapse, they are in strong position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. There are lingering questions on offense, and they won't be scaring anyone with how they play, but they continue to find ways to win.

"They don't got pictures on the scorecards," a smiling Mariota said.

Tennessee remains in first place in the AFC South, and holds a two-game lead in the wild-card race.

What I liked: The bend-but-don't-break defense we've seen all season, most notably on the Texans' final drive going for the potential game winner. Sims deserves credit for the interception, of course, and hanging tight in coverage against DeAndre Hopkins after top corner Logan Ryan left with a concussion.

"I was just trying to make a play for the team to seal the game," Sims said. "They only threw to (Hopkins) three times after I started covering him. I trusted my preparation. Logan Ryan gave me tips all week. It paid off."

The run game also saw a revival due to better play from the offensive line and running backs. The Titans finished with 198 yards on 25 carries, a 7.9-yard average. DeMarco Murray showed some of his best burst of the season and looked to be the veteran starter the Titans keep waiting on him to be.

What I didn’t like: Early miscues -- Adoree' Jackson's fumbled punt return, Ryan Succop's missed 40-yard field goal and Jonnu Smith's failing to get two feet in on what would have been a big third-down reception -- put the Titans into a 10-0 hole. Delanie Walker called the Titans, "the comeback kids," but he admitted they won't be able to count on bouncing back from those slow starts in the playoffs.

The defense did bend quite a bit, making fans nervous as Hopkins kept snagging passes and Tom Savage completed a 22-yard reception to backup tight end Stephen Anderson on fourth-and-19.

Fantasy fallout: We're still waiting on Corey Davis' breakout game. He was the Titans' No. 1 receiver again with Rishard Matthews out, but he had just two catches for 12 yards on four targets. He's just not a player to start until he proves he can produce consistently. Walker (5 catches, 63 yards, TD) and Henry (109 yards, TD) had strong fantasy days.

Slugfest: It was a game full of injuries. The Texans lost five players, including four to concussions. The Titans lost Ryan to a concussion and defensive end DaQuan Jones to a biceps injury; Jones was seen with a sling on the sideline and he'll be checked out on Monday. Ryan is in the concussion protocol. Those, along with Matthews' hamstring, will be injuries to watch.

What’s next: The Titans prepare for a lengthy week and a half West Coast trip with back-to-back games against the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.