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Titans go above .500 in sixth try, share division lead

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Given a sixth chance this season to get over .500, the Tennessee Titans grabbed it with a 13-10 win Sunday over the Denver Broncos at Nissan Stadium.

The Titans played great out of the gate and ran out to a 13-0 lead, then had a lot of holding on to do.

The result wasn't as pretty as it could have been, but it was plenty gritty. Tennessee is perfectly fine with that.

"We have won some close games against some good football teams, and all it does it reconfirm what we're doing, that we can play with anybody in the league," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said.

With three games left, Tennessee (7-6) is very much alive in the AFC South and is tied with the Houston Texans atop the division thanks to a win the Titans were built to deliver. If the Titans win their final three games -- at Kansas City, at Jacksonville and home against Houston -- they will win the AFC South.

The Titans forced the issue with the run, playing ball-control offense. They handed it to DeMarco Murray 21 times for 92 yards and a touchdown. They handed it to Derrick Henry 12 times for 42 yards. Quarterback Marcus Mariota ran it eight times for 38 more.

They smartly played a tough wind that blew in their favor in the first and third quarters, and against them in the second and fourth.

Tennessee didn't play with a hint of concern about being able to hang with the defending Super Bowl champs and appeared to thrive -- at least for a good while -- given far greater stakes than the team has had in a December game since 2011.

The Titans were without defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, a key piece of their defensive front who is dealing with a sprained foot. They were also minus slot receiver Kendall Wright, a healthy scratch who was benched because he was late for meetings.

But many of those who did play had major bounce coming off a bye week. The offensive line played especially well, carving out the room for all those rushing yards and keeping Von Miller off Mariota.

Still, it was a nervous second half.

It felt as if things were slipping away late for the Titans. The offense couldn't keep possession. Mariota didn't complete a second-half pass until there was 3:32 left in the game and didn't do much overall.

Needing a field goal for overtime, the Broncos got the ball at their 2-yard line with 4:22 left. But Trevor Siemian's pass to A.J. Derby was stripped away by Avery Williamson and recovered by Daimion Stafford to seal it with 53 second left.

The Titans' defense had not recovered a fumble all season. That was their second of the game in a crucial win.

"If feels good, but we know we've still got a lot of work to do," cornerback Brice McCain said. "We've just got to take care of us, don't worry about anybody else, keep grinding.

"I think it's good that we are peaking at the right time."