Another game and another assault on the record books for Chris Johnson.
Johnson finished with 117 yards on 28 carries in the Titans’ 47-7 mashing of the St. Louis Rams, and remains on pace to reach the 2,000-yard plateau for the season.
With three games remaining, Johnson has 1,626 yards this season, needing 374 to reach 2,000 yards and 480 yards to eclipse Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 yards.
Johnson knows he is a marked man, as the Rams geared their defense toward trying to slow him down on Sunday.
“That’s every week. Getting to 2,000 yards and breaking the record is not going to be easy. It’s a tough job,” Johnson said. “I don’t expect to go out there and it be easy for me. But on our part, it was a couple of bad reads, and a couple of missed blocks. I put that on us as an offense.”
Still, Johnson scored three touchdowns– two rushing and a 66-yard score on a screen pass from Vince Young – and managed to set a couple of franchise records in the process.
Johnson now has eight consecutive 100-yard rushing game, eclipsing the seven in a row he shared with Hall of Famer Earl Campbell.
Johnson also surpassed Campbell’s franchise record for most yards from scrimmage (1,981) as he now has 2,017 yards between rushing and receiving this season and is within range of Marshall Faulk’s NFL record of 2,429 yards with three games to play. He became only the fifth back in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 13 games.
Johnson said one of his goals was to outperform the Rams’ Steven Jackson, who came in as the NFL’s second leading rusher and the leader in the NFC.
Mission accomplished as the Titans held Jackson to 47 yards.
“No matter what back I’m going against, I want to outperform him,” Johnson said. “Basically I just wanted to come in here and get this win.”
Jackson was obviously frustrated by the 40-point pounding and the Rams’ inability to get anything going.
“Instead of embarrassing myself and my family I am just going to say I am tired. I am just tired. You feel in the blanks. However you want to write the article, however you want to say it. I am just tired,” Jackson said.
Linebacker David Thornton left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Rookie fourth-round pick Gerald McRath came on to fill in for Thornton at outside linebacker.
“You never know when your number is going to be called. You’ve got to prepare yourself to play even though you don’t know what is going to happen,” McRath said.
Keith Null’s struggle in his first-ever NFL game was not a big surprise. What did come as a bit of a surprise was that Null got the nod. The Rams tried to get Kyle Boller ready, but his thigh injury would not allow him to start, paving the way for Null’s first professional start.
“We didn’t even know we were going to get the rookie until they came out. We weren’t sure who we were going to get,” defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said.
Null didn’t know he was going to start until just before game time either, even though he got the majority of the starting reps throughout the week.
“I didn’t know I was going to start until after warm ups. Kyle tried to go out there and warm it up, but it just didn’t end up working out,” Null said.
Rams guard Richie Incognito was penalized twice for personal foul penalties in the first half and benched by Coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Incognito first was penalized for head butting Sen’Derrick Marks and then for knocking Vincent Fuller to the ground after a play, drawing a shove from Vanden Bosch afterwards.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him. He’s a big bad guy and that’s the way he plays,” Marks said. “You’ve got a lot of players in the league that play that way. I don’t know all of them yet, but I know he’s one now, so I’ll be ready every time I play him now. That’s the way he plays, but if he were to watch film, and see the way we play, he should know we don’t take stuff like that.”
The Rams' Clifton Ryan slung Johnson out of bounds along the Titans sideline, drawing the ire of Titans players. Steven Tulloch scuffled briefly with Ryan. A flag was initially thrown, but picked up with no personal foul on St. Louis.
Keith Bulluck has been fined plenty of times for throwing footballs into the stands, and did so again Sunday after his second interception.
Bulluck said fans should have a chance to get a ball on occasion.
“Baseballs that go in the stands, they get to keep those. Hockey games, they get to keep the puck. So if I get my hands on the ball, I’ll let the fans have it,” Bulluck said.