Focus for Titans is all on winning
Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010 3:21 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — The schedule has brought the best possible sight for the skidding Tennessee Titans: An NFC opponent.
The Titans take a 12-game winning streak against the other conference and can sweep the NFC East this season when Washington (4-5) visits Sunday.
A team that hasn’t played at home but once since Oct. 3 is back in Nashville on a two-game skid that dropped the Titans (5-4) from a one-game lead in the AFC South to a game back of Indianapolis.
With another win, Tennessee would tie Miami and New Orleans for the second-longest interconference streak since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
“That’s quite a run,” Washington coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday in a conference call with Tennessee reporters. “It just shows you how good a football team they are, that doesn’t happen very often. Jeff (Fisher) always has his guys ready to play. They’ve a very well coached team. They play extremely hard so it will be a good challenge for us.”
Fisher? Well, he’s thinking only of the Redskins after a 29-17 loss in Miami last week.
“This is our next opponent and we have to become familiar with them and we just have to go out and play much better, protect the football and make plays,” Fisher said.
With a win Sunday, the Titans would tie for the second-longest interconference winning streak since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
Miami won 13 straight over the NFC between 1978 and 1981, while the New Orleans Saints downed 13 straight AFC teams between 1987 and 1990.
Tennessee would have to wait till next season with games against the NFC South to try and tie New England’s 17-game streak set between 2005 and 2009.
They swept the NFC North in 2008 and the NFC West in 2009, and they’ve already won on the road in beating the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. They added a win over Philadelphia on Oct. 24.
Titans right guard Jake Scott said getting to 13 such wins would be nice.
“At the same time, we’re trying to get to the playoffs. That’s the important thing. AFC, NFC, it doesn’t matter. We just need wins,” Scott said.
Playing against the NFC, and doing well, means paying a little more attention when studying film.
Left tackle Michael Roos said the key is making sure to study up on players’ tendencies, those favorite moves they already know from playing AFC teams so much.
“Someone in the NFC might be a new guy drafted three years ago and you still haven’t seen them,” Roos said. “You have to look a little closer.”
Roos thinks some of his teammates probably don’t even realize this NFC streak is alive.
“Against the NFC, it might be the luck of the draw and the randomness of winning those games, and they happen to be NFC opponents. It’s not something we think about or talk about. it’s just happened that way. We try to win every game,” Roos said.
Perhaps the Titans should have lobbied for a switch to the NFC back during realignment in 2002.
Since then, the Titans are 26-9 against the NFC.
They have been .500 or better in each of those seasons except in 2005 when they went 1-3 against the NFC West.
“There are a lot of excellent teams in the National Football League, and the NFC has been very strong,” Shanahan said of the Titans’ streak.
“It just shows you what type of group of guys they’ve got. That doesn’t happen with a lot of guys going in the same direction and what they’re capable of doing. Playing at home, we have to have our A game together to go in there, and we understand that because Tennessee is a heck of a football team.”
Notes: Vince Young practiced Wednesday and wasn’t listed on the injury report with the sprained left ankle that kept him from starting last week’s loss in Miami. Rookie Rusty Smith took some snaps with the first-team offense to prepare him to back up Young. ... Backup quarterback Kerry Collins was among six Titans who did not practice. Collins said his left calf is feeling better but he doesn’t know if he will be able to dress as the emergency quarterback yet. K Rob Bironas (back), WR Kenny Britt (right hamstring), DT Tony Brown (right knee), DB Vincent Fuller (hamstring) and TE Craig Stevens (knee) also did not practice. CB Cortland Finnegan (shin) was limited.