Revenge is on mind of Titans
Posted: Friday, December 17, 2010 4:58 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Titans know their postseason hopes have dwindled to slim and almost none. So they’re looking back three weeks for extra motivation to avoid the franchise’s longest losing streak since 1994.
And no, the revenge the Titans want to exact from the Houston Texans doesn’t involve the brawl between Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan. The memory of being shut out 20-0 in Houston on Nov. 28 with Chris Johnson held to a career-low 5 yards on seven carries stings more than enough.
“We definitely want to get them back for that,” Titans tight end Bo Scaife said.
These teams have been playing each other only since 2002, but being AFC South division rivals has steeped emotions between the team that left Houston and the franchise that replaced the Titans. Now the Texans, who have won three of the past four, can sweep the season series for only the second time and first since 2004.
“I don’t like to use the word hate, but I’m not really sure how much the Texans and the Titans like each other,” Houston cornerback Glover Quin said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Both Houston (5-8) and Tennessee (5-8) remain alive for the postseason, which ends the instant Jacksonville wins one game in the final three weeks.
Promising seasons have disintegrated with the Titans blowing the division lead with their slide, while the Texans have lost six of seven.
All this losing has put job security for both Jeff Fisher, the NFL’s longest-tenured coach with Tennessee, and Houston’s Gary Kubiak at risk. Fisher’s trying to salvage his third 8-8 record in the past five seasons.
“We haven’t been eliminated,” Fisher said. “There are some things that can happen out there and if everything goes well this weekend, if we’re fortunate to find a way to win and we get help then we’re still alive.”
Fisher at least had a few extra days for his Titans to rest up after losing 30-28 to Indianapolis on Dec. 9. Kubiak is trying to rally the Texans after a 30-28 overtime loss Monday night to Baltimore after his team came back from a 21-0 deficit. It doesn’t help that the Texans have to travel on a short week.
“I wish we could play about every other day and get this taste out of our mouth,” Kubiak said.
This game will be different, and not just because Finnegan and Johnson insist nothing will get out of hand after the NFL fined both men $25,000 for their brawl in the last meeting. Johnson yanked Finnegan’s helmet off in the fourth quarter and landed three punches before both were ejected.
Finnegan said he and the Titans just want a win, especially in their final home game this season.
“I know our fans want to see it, and we want it bad,” said Finnegan, who earlier this week told fans to get the popcorn ready for the rematch.
Chris Johnson called his performance in the last game “embarrassing.”
Kerry Collins will make his third straight start at quarterback for the Titans . He threw for three touchdowns against the Colts, with the return of receiver Kenny Britt also providing a spark to the offense. Johnson won’t have just seven carries this time around. The running back ran for 111 yards against Indianapolis and had 68 yards receiving.
“Everybody knows the offense starts with him,” Titans fullback Ahmard Hall said of Johnson. “We have to get him started fast and correct all the mistakes we had the last time to get a win.”
The Titans will have a new center in Fernando Velasco, who steps in for the injured Eugene Amano. For the Texans, defensive end Mario Williams’ season ended when he was placed on injured reserve with a sports hernia.
“We just keep on going,” Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye said. “It’s unfortunate to lose a guy like that, and he’s battled with it the whole year and has played tough. It’s unfortunate, but we got to keep going.”
Houston also put right guard Mike Briesel on injured reserve, but the Texans still have one of the NFL’s most potent offenses thanks to Arian Foster’s league-leading 1,330 yards rushing. Also, Matt Schaub ranks fifth with 3,482 yards passing, and he has thrown for eight TDs with no interceptions in his past three games against Tennessee.
“The team on the other side of the ball doesn’t really matter at this point,” Foster said. “You obviously know this is a little bit of a rivalry, AFC South, it gets very physical. There are a lot of emotions that run into this game. You notice it, but you’ve got to remain even keel and just play.”