The Tennessee Titans were prepared to do almost anything to try to move the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. It turned out that was too much.
“I think, in retrospect in talking with the offensive staff, I think we had a little too much going in (with) the game plan,” Fisher said Monday. “You know what that is? That is kind of a reflection of how far (Vince Young) has come at the position.
“It was a bad day offensively.”
In this case, it’s easy to imagine that less might actually have been more because it’s difficult to imagine that the Titans could have turned the ball over any more than they did in their 19-11 defeat at LP Field.
In all there were four lost fumbles – one each by quarterbacks Young and Kerry Collins, running back Chris Johnson and kickoff returner Marc Mariani – and three interceptions – two by Young, one by Collins.
It was the most giveaways in a game by Tennessee since Nov. 19, 2000 – when it coughed it up seven times against Cleveland. That day included three interceptions thrown by quarterback Steve McNair and four lost fumbles, two of them by McNair.
The Titans came from behind twice in the second half (first from seven points down and then from three) that day and eventually won 24-10.
There were three distinct differences between that one and what took place Sunday.
• McNair was in his seventh year in the league and his fifth straight as a starting quarterback. Young is just now in his fifth season and has spent roughly half his career as a backup.
• Pittsburgh has a well-established tradition as one of the league’s top defenses as opposed to the Browns, who were in their second year of reestablishing the franchise.
• Finally, with a little less than 15 minutes to play against Pittsburgh the Titans trailed by 16 points, 19-3.
Tennesssee overcame the Browns and all those giveaways a decade ago by simplifying. After a scoreless first half, they ran the ball 24 times and threw it just eight (and were sacked once) in the final two quarters.
That was not possible against the Steelers because of the difference on the scoreboard and the difficulty in trying to move the ball against a defense that has allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL over the past nine seasons and was the AFC’s best against the run in 2009.
Collins attempted 25 passes in the fourth quarter.
So while Young, now in his fifth year, might have been prepared to practice a lot of different things during the week, but the fact that the he is still not a skilled practitioner of all aspect of the quarterback position prompted the decision to go with Collins in the fourth quarter.
“We needed to throw it to catch up and have a chance to win,” Fisher said. “Kerry’s had a lot more experience with (Pittsburgh’s) defense. In time, Vince will be able to do those kind of things.”
• On the subject of the quarterback switch, Fisher said Monday – as he did Sunday – that Young remains the team’s starting quarterback.
“I made the decision,” Fisher said. “There’s no carryover. (Young) is our starter. He doesn’t need to look over his shoulder. “
• Fisher did not fault defensive end Jacob Ford for his inability to make a block on Pittsburgh punter Daniel Sepulveda, who eventually saved a touchdown when he forced Mariani out of bounds after a 38-yard return in the first quarter.
“He had a different responsibility,” Fisher said. “He was hustling down and when he saw Marc break … he had to reverse his field. He just didn’t have a chance to make that block.”
• Fisher expressed disappointment with the officiating on several moments in the contest. They were:
-- The holding penalty that negated Johnson’s 85-yard touchdown run. “It was a hold. It’s one that if you’re going to call them then call them every single time. It wasn’t the only hold in the ballgame. It just happened to be one that was called on us at a wrong time.”
-- The fact that no penalty was called when Young was slammed to the ground on a third-quarter sack. “You say, ‘Well, if that happened to (Tom) Brady, or that happened to so and so or so and so, there would have been seven flags on the field.’ Yes, probably. Why wasn’t there one Sunday? I don’t know.”
-- On Troy Polamalu’s leap over the line of scrimmage to stop Collins for a loss of one yard on first-and-goal from the Steelers’ 1. “As long as you’re not in the neutral zone or over the neutral zone when the ball is snapped it’s OK. … There’s no way he was not in the neutral zone.”