Humble the ‘perfect’ attitude for Titans
Posted: Friday, October 17, 2008 4:58 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — If pride goes before a fall, the Tennessee Titans are working extra hard to stay humble as the NFL’s last undefeated team.
Center Kevin Mawae says his family knows better than to try talking to him about the Titans’ start. Tight end Alge Crumpler quickly ticks off the other AFC South teams chasing Tennessee hard. Cornerback Nick Harper sees a team with plenty of room for improvement.
Last undefeated team? These Titans just call it a good start.
“It doesn’t mean anything this week,” quarterback Kerry Collins said. “You’ve got to be able to focus each week. You’ve got to be able to come back. It doesn’t matter. The most important thing is what we’re going to do this week. We’re not taking this team lightly. … Anything beyond that is foolish to think about.”
With the New York Giants’ loss to Cleveland on Monday night, the Titans (5-0) found themselves the only NFL team without a loss. They visit Kansas City (1-4) on Sunday having won an NFL-best eight straight regular-season games.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher said being undefeated isn’t an issue.
“We’ve played well, we’ve gotten through the bye week, and we have a big challenge on our hands this week,” Fisher said. “That’s the only thing that matters to us.”
That coachspeak is echoed in the locker room where the only talk about this start comes in answers to specific questions. At least that’s what Mawae insists.
“We’re just talking about Kansas City right now coming off a bye weekend. … Our focus is this week and one week at a time,” Mawae said.
While the Titans were off, Crumpler pointed out that defending AFC South champ Indianapolis (3-2), Jacksonville (3-3) and Houston (1-4) all won. The Titans will host Indianapolis on Oct. 27, but Crumpler said there can be no overlooking.
“We’ve just got to come out and play week-to-week football,” Crumpler said.
Harper and linebacker David Thornton were part of some Colts teams that enjoyed undefeated starts. Harper said being the last undefeated team simply means the Titans have done a lot of things right and are headed in the right direction “for the most part.” His advice to teammates? Change nothing.
That isn’t what Kansas City coach Herm Edwards wants to hear. The Titans lead the NFL in scoring defense, holding opponents to 11.2 points per game
“If they’re saying they haven’t played their best game, yeah, they are scary,” Edwards said.
“They’re playing pretty good. I don’t know what their best game is, but every time I watch them, they’re playing pretty good. They’re playing real consistent, and I think they know who they are. They don’t get frazzled, they don’t give up a lot of big plays, they take the ball away, they sack the quarterback, they do all the things you have to do to play good defense.”
The Titans can improve offensively. Collins wants to see more consistency after struggling to a 13-10 win over Baltimore on Oct. 5. He may have receiver Justin Gage back from a knee injury that has kept him out of two of the past three games.
Mawae said every position group has room for improvement. And anyone excited about winning streaks need only look back to last year and the New England Patriots’ 16-0 regular season.
“For a lot of the players, that’s the standard right now. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what your record is until you’re sitting in the Super Bowl and winning championships,” Mawae said. “Obviously, the big picture is that. But the small picture is this week against the Kansas City Chiefs.”
One week at a time.