|NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are proving they remember how to play keepaway. |
A team that ranked last in the NFL in 2006 in time of possession, averaging 27 minutes, 17 seconds, now is behind only New England, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
It’s been a big part of their 2-1 start.
“It feels good, and you know that we’re doing it because we’re winning games,” right guard Benji Olson said Wednesday. “That’s how you win games. Control the clock and keep the other offense off the field. That way they don’t score points. We score more, and that’s the way you win.”
The Titans managed to go 8-8 in 2006 despite the time difference, the first time in coach Jeff Fisher’s tenure that the team had finished with less than a 30-minute average. It wasn’t always pretty last season.
They even won a game when they held the ball only 15:39 — the lowest time of possession in a victory since the NFL started tracking that stat in 1977.
Luckily, the defense returned three turnovers for touchdowns.
Improving that number was a top goal this season.
But Fisher wouldn’t say what number, if any, was set for his Titans to reach.
They are averaging 33:25 right now, more than three minutes better than Sunday’s opponent, the Atlanta Falcons (1-3).
“We just want to push it as high as we possibly can, knowing that there are going to be some games where it gets skewed a little bit,” Fisher said. “We had several last year, one in particular that we won, but you want to keep it as high as you can.”
Between 1995 and 2006, only Denver (31:54) and Pittsburgh (31:51) have held the ball better than the Titans’ average of 31:40.
Since the start of the 1999 season, the Titans had the ball 30 minutes or more
in 87 of 131 regular season games (66.4 percent). That has translated into success. They are 58-29 when winning time of possession, and 18-26 when they don’t.
Fullback Ahmard Hall said they can sense a defense tiring at the end of long drives and especially when they string a few together.
“We’re known as a physical run team. They already know what we’re going to do, and they still can’t stop it. It demoralizes a team,” Hall said.