Titans take down Jags 13-10

Sunday, September 9, 2007 at 6:55pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The forgotten man had a memorable game.

Chris Brown not only ran for a career-high 175 yards Sunday, but together with a suddenly stubborn run defense, helped the Tennessee Titans turn in an old-school 13-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Brown, who languished on the bench for much of last season then found no takers in free agency, ran over, through and around the usually strong Jaguars front as part of Tennessee’s 282-yard rushing day en route to the season-opening win.

“It was nice when you could run through them and nobody was even close to touching you,” said Brown, who had just 156 yards rushing all of last season. “They knew what was coming, and they still couldn’t stop it. That just hurts a defense.

“Their defense is built to stop the run, and our offense is built to run it, so our attitude all week was, ‘Let the best man win.’”

The Titans dominated for much of the game, even if the scoreboard didn’t reflect it, garnering nearly 37 minutes in time of possession against the defense ranked No. 4 in the NFL last year versus the run.

Tennessee persevered a tough first half in which the Titans hurt themselves with red zone miscues.

Three times the Titans ventured into the red zone in the first half with only a pair of Rob Bironas field goals and foiled on a fourth-down run by LenDale White inside the Jacksonville 1 to show for it.

The Titans trailed just 10-6 at halftime, and owed much of their ability to stay close to a rejuvenated run defense that bottled up the Jaguars’ one-two rushing punch of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew for virtually the entire game.

In all, Tennessee’s defense, which was ranked dead last overall in 2006, limited the Jaguars to just 72 rushes on 18 carries, including just six yards on nine carries in the first half.

The turnaround was mostly one of mindset, said defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.

“I think a lot of it is attitude,” Vanden Bosch said. “We did some good things in the preseason and got some confidence, and the whole offseason we had in mind that we have Jacksonville in the opener. We knew it was going to be a physical matchup, and we knew if we didn’t do a good job of stopping the run, we weren’t going to win this game.”

That smashmouth attitude was prevalent in the Titans’ offense, as Tennessee ran the ball on 49 of its 69 offensive snaps. Despite the first-half scoring problems, the Titans stayed the course in the second half on offense.

“We had three drives inside the 10-yard line and didn’t get touchdowns,” center Kevin Mawae said. “But we didn’t make any adjustments. We said we were going to keep doing what we had been doing and stick to it, and that’s what we did.”

The telling moment for the offense came in the third quarter after the Jaguars, forced to go for a fourth-and-10 at the Titans’ 19 because of kicker Josh Scobee’s quadriceps injury, were turned away.

Tennessee’s offense responded with a 12-play, 79-yard touchdown march to take the lead for good, using the same formula that had worked all game along, using 11 runs (including one Vince Young scramble) to just one pass play. Young capped off the drive with a two-yard run on a quarterback draw.

Part of the Titans’ rushing success came courtesy of Norm Chow’s game plan to use more three- and four-receiver sets to keep the Jaguars from crowding extra men in the box, thus creating wide rushing lanes for Brown and White.

“The big thing that Norm Chow said was that he wanted to spread guys out and go out there and do what we do,” said Young, who took on caretaker role at quarterback, completing 11 of 18 for just 78 yards with one interception. “We executed the plays and took what they gave us.”

For veteran guard Benji Olson, it was a throwback kind of effort by the Titans.

“We were out there running the ball good. It was a good game, a close game,” Olson said. “We left some points out there, but it reminded me of Eddie [George] running up in there. The backs really hit the creases well. The backs ran hard and the o-line did a good job.”

That, combined with a defense that allowed no points in the second half, equaled a Titans’ upset victory of an old rival in an old familiar way.

No one contributed more than Brown, who had been virtually given up on last season and left as an unrestricted free agent, only to return in June after the Titans failed to land a veteran running back via trade or free agency and he found no other takers.

Sunday proved to be a fresh start for the Titans and Brown, who said, “I’ve already forgotten about last year.”

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By: BADCOPS on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Great game guys. It's about time you put the Jacka$$'s down. We hope this continues and Fisher we want to go to the Super Bowl.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Chris Brown was a beast and Lendale played well also. The offensive line opened up big holes and the defense was playing like Jacksonville's was suppose to. Another big test this sunday. If we can shut down the jags run game, we can shut down the colts run game, but Manning will give our secondary fits. We have to run the ball with the success we had at Jacksonville and control the clock to have a chance to win.

By: caholt on 12/31/69 at 6:00

With all due respect TITAN1, Lendale White was practically useless yesterday. Chris Brown did all of the heavy lifting, and even when he delivered the ball into the red zone, Lendale couldn't manage to get it into the end zone. This game simply re-inforces my opinion that Lendale is another #1 draft pick bust and the sooner we cut him, the better.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Great win for the Titans. It’s a good thing the running game was such a success because it’s obvious that Vince isn’t going to be able to throw the ball. Maybe one day people will wake up and realize he is not a quarterback, but a running back that throws occasionally. And yes, I’m not a fan of VY.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I was surprised shocked dismayed and very happy for the win yesterday....This team is exciting and certainly capable of winning 8 games. CAHOLT, you are right on the money with Lendale White. Any guy not willing to stay in shape is not the kind of player the Titans need.

By: serr8d on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Sorry, caholt, the 'running back by committee' thing is here to stay. Gone are the days of the pounding running backs like Eddie George. You can't do that and expect a back to stay healthy for long. Chris had a great day; Lendale will have a chance to have a great day probably sooner than later. That win was the surprise of the weekend for me...

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Chris Brown ran like Travis Henry did last year, like his job was on the line while LenWhale looks like he belongs in line at a Golden Corral. The Titans played well, especially the O-Line and the D-Line. I think things are going to go bad very quickly in Jacksonville.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I'm not saying Lendale had the game Chris did because Chris was just wicked. But averaging 3.7 ypc gaining 64 yards is not too shabby for a rb. If both can stay healthy, this one two punch is going to punish a lot of teams. VY had a chance to score early, only had the ref in front of him, but passed it and we had to settle for a field goal.

By: serr8d on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Travis Henry had a great day for Denver; 139 yards in their win over Buffalo. But Denver is still an elite running team, so he fits right in. Good for him. His average for us last year was 4.5 ypg, not bad, but definitely something Lendale can do. Give Lendale a chance; we stole him in last year's draft, IMHO.

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I think LenWhale can be a decent back, I'm afraid it'll only be when his meal ticket, literally, depends on it. I'm also starting to think that players that come out of USC under Pete Carroll are alot more hype than they are talent.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Didn't see him in there. They need to go ahead and start him opposite Harper and let him get some experience. Finnegan is a good nickel back but they picked on him yesterday.

By: TRHJR on 12/31/69 at 6:00

did the # one pick get back on the field , after the first kick-off return, and fumble ?