Titans hammer hapless KC
Posted: Monday, October 20, 2008 5:41 pm
By: By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chris Johnson burst off left tackle and raced down the sideline, capping a 66-yard touchdown run with a leap into the end zone.
It was a fitting celebration to a laughably easy day for the Titans.
Only Johnson wasn’t done.
Still breathing hard, he leaped to his feet, trotted to a band set up behind the end zone, then banged out a few notes on the bongos. Even with penalty flags flying, Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher let out a sly smile and patted his running back on the helmet.
Johnson capped a 168-yard day with his touchdown-and-bongo show, LenDale White added 149 yards and three touchdowns and the Titans remained the NFL’s only undefeated team with a 34-10 rout of the hapless Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
“I thought about it before the game but coach Fisher talked to me and said I can’t be doing that,” Johnson said of his ditty. “It’s disrespect, but I’m just trying to have fun. He didn’t chew me out because it was a win.”
An easy win, at that.
Tennessee (6-0) overpowered the Chiefs on both sides of the ball, grinding out a team-record 332 yards rushing and holding Kansas City scoreless for the first 55 minutes. The Titans led 10-0 after the first quarter and were never threatened, using a punishing ground game to make up for the absence of starting receivers Justin McCareins (hamstring) and Justin Gage (knee).
Tennessee pounded Kansas City from the start, with White scoring on runs of 6 and 2 yards for a 17-0 halftime lead. He followed with the franchise’s longest run since 1983, racing up the middle on an 80-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, high-stepping over the line just before a Chiefs defender caught him.
Johnson made his teammate’s celebration look tame by striking it up with the band a few minutes later, though it may be his last performance.
“It was a very short-lived career,” Fisher said. “It won’t happen again.”
The Titans had plenty of reason to enjoy this one.
Rod Bironas hit field goals of 46 and 49 yards, extending his streak to 18 straight. Kerry Collins had another uneventful start, throwing for 123 yards on 11-of-18 passing with no interceptions. The defense had three sacks and knocked out two quarterbacks, allowing 150 yards total before the Chiefs broke through against mostly backups in the fourth quarter.
Not a perfect game, but enough to keep the record perfect.
“It’s a message for everybody that we are for real,” Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse said.
The Chiefs (1-5) had two weeks to gather themselves after an embarrassing 34-0 loss to Carolina their last game. Instead, Kansas City spent the bye week dealing with Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez’s trade request and running back Larry Johnson being charged with assault, then benched for breaking team rules.
Whether it was the distractions or just the latest chapter in the once-successful franchise’s continued downward spiral, the Chiefs were completely overmatched at the line of scrimmage, losing quarterbacks Brodie Croyle and Damon with injuries.
Kansas City allowed two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since 1977 and set a team record for rushing yards against, losing for the 14th time in 15 games.
“We were all fresh, had some good practices, the morale of the team was up, but for some reason it died quick — real quick,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said.
The problems started early.
Tennessee scored on its first two drives to take a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, then Croyle came hobbling off with a right knee injury early in the second.
Making his first start after missing four games with a separated shoulder, Croyle lasted just 14 plays, leaving the field with an injury for the fourth time in eight career starts after being sandwiched between two Titans defenders.
Huard wasn’t a whole lot better, going 9-of-16 for 96 yards before spending most of the fourth quarter on the sideline with his right thumb heavily bandaged.
The lack of a running game certainly didn’t help.
Without Larry Johnson, a two-time Pro Bowler, the Chiefs managed just 58 yards on 17 carries and were forced to the pass after falling into an early hole.
Notes: Gonzalez was recognized for becoming the career leader for yards by a tight end with a tribute on the video screen between series in the first quarter. Gonzalez, who set the record at Carolina on Oct. 5, acknowledged cheers from the crowd by taking off his helmet and waving. … Tennessee’s previous record for rushing yards was 296 the Houston Oilers against Kansas City on Nov. 27, 1977.