CINCINNATI — What’s Albert Haynesworth worth?
Apparently more than anyone could have ever thought to the Tennessee Titans, who suffered their third consecutive blowout loss without him — a 35-6 blasting by the Cincinnati Bengals — as he recovers from a strained right hamstring.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Haynesworth was getting closer to playing and perhaps could have given Tennessee’s suddenly struggling defense a few snaps, but that it was not worth risking a potential setback.
“There was a chance that he probably could have gone. We want him back full-speed. We don’t want to set him back by trying to get him out there playing. He is closer, but he’s just not ready,” Fisher said.
Haynesworth admitted he had hoped to play to help a defense that yielded 426 yards to a 4-7 Bengals team on Sunday, but that he and the Titans erred on the side of caution.
“I thought maybe I could a little bit, but it was probably best not to. You don’t want to re-aggravate it or hurt it worse. So I decided not to go,” Haynesworth said. “I would have just played until I couldn’t play anymore. I just want to get back to work, get in the training room, and hopefully, next week I can be out there.
“It is getting a lot better. I can see a difference. This last week, I couldn’t do karaoke [an exercise] or anything. Last week, I could barely push off people, Now I can push off and I can somewhat defend myself. Honestly, next week I think I have a really, really good shot of playing.”
One thing Haynesworth said he hopes to bring to the defense is attitude.
“It’s hard just to watch us lose. I heard somebody suggest it’s because I’m not in there. It ain’t got nothing to do with me,” Haynesworth said. “It’s all about an attitude thing. You watch the first eight games, and we played with a serious attitude. We dominated. We pushed people around. Now, we’re just out there to be out there. I don’t think we have that identity and that same attitude that we did the first eight games.”
Linebacker Keith Bulluck echoed that after the game.
“This team has to decide what we’re going to be. We have to decide if we’re going to be the team that came out the first half of this season this year or the team that came out in the first half of the season last year [at 0-5],” Bulluck said. “Right now, we’re looking like the team that came out the first half of the season last year, but that all can change, because we’ve already played great football at one point in the year. Right now we’re in a little lull, but I’m not concerned that our players won’t get the point and realize what we have to do in order continue and finish we’ve started.”
INJURIES: Safety Chris Hope was lost early in the game because of a concussion.
Hope did not return and was replaced by Calvin Lowry, who had an interception of a deflected Carson Palmer pass that set up a Rob Bironas field goal.
Hope went in to make a tackle and defensive end Sean Conover, who was coming over the top on the play, collided with Hope, who did not return to the game.
Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch suffered a rib cartilage injury in the second half, and defensive tackle Randy Starks had his shoulder iced after the game. Quarterback Vince Young had an ankle injury.
SILLY PENALTY: The Titans had to settle for a Bironas field goal at the end of the half, thanks in part to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on running back LenDale White, who kicked a Bengals player out of bounds. White caught a pass in the flat from Vince Young, but was tackled for a yard loss at the 5. Cincinnati’s Marvin White was called for a personal foul for a hit out of bounds with 12 seconds left, which would have given Tennessee a first-and-goal at the 2. But White kicked an unidentified Bengals player in front of an official and received a penalty that negated the Cincinnati foul.
White played very sparingly in the second half and declined comment after the game.
“He’s got the penalty [from the defender]. He’s got to walk away,” Fisher said.
CELEBRATION: It had been a while since Bengals receiver Chad Johnson had seen the end zone — eight games to be exact. So when he scored the first of his three touchdowns Sunday against the Titans, he had an end zone celebration in mind. He dropped the football and raced to the end zone where he took over briefly for a CBS cameraman, drawing a 15-yard penalty.
“Chad Johnson is a great wide receiver, a great showman. They [the NFL] make too much of his celebrations. Of course, you don’t want him to celebrate on your team, because that means he scored, but whatever,” Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said.
Johnson had a career-high 12 catches for 103 yards and also passed Carl Pickens as Cincinnati’s all-time leading receiver.