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Bironas’ make-up means all’s well for Titans

Bironas’ make-up means all’s well for Titans
Bironas’ make-up means all’s well for Titans

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets a pass through to Donald Driver during the Titans’ 19-16 victory Sunday in Nashville.
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher is a believer in second chances.
Rob Bironas was thankful for the ‘do-over.’
Bironas booted a game-winning 41-yard field goal in overtime after missing a similar kick on the last play of regulation to keep the Titans the lone unbeaten NFL team with a thrilling 19-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers Sunday.
Tennessee is now 8-0 for the first time in franchise history and matched their longest-ever win streak with their 11 consecutive victory dating back to last season. The 100th straight sellout at LP Field witnessed the Titans’ latest triumph.
Bironas’ heroic feat came 5:24 into the overtime after Tennessee had won the coin toss and never let Green Bay have an offensive chance by moving 55 yards in 10 plays.
More importantly, his perfect field goal from the left hashmark came after his 47-yard attempt at the end of regulation clanked off the right upright to force the OT.
“I don’t miss many, so I definitely wanted another shot at it to put us in the lead and go home with the victory, 8-0,” Bironas said afterward. “I was hoping for exactly what happened.”
Fisher, whose club was coming off a short work week and an emotional victory over the Indianapolis Colts before a national Monday Night Football audience, was simply thankful for the Titans’ second victory in six days.
“When you win eight games, you’re going to — on occasion — need to win some like this,” the Tennessee coach said. “We hung in there.”
The Titans were actually fortunate to have had the opportunity to remain perfect after generating little offense in the second half. Prior to the drive that positioned Bironas for his missed try on the final play of regulation, Tennessee had gained just 55 total yards and had gone three-and-out four times.
On that march though, and the ensuing one afterward, quarterback Kerry Collins made a handful of critical plays, including three completions in regulation to position Bironas, and then a key 16-yard completion to rookie Chris Johnson, who accounted for 161 all-purpose yards in the contest.
Johnson also had a 15-yard rush on the game-winning drive and LenDale White picked up a first down too, on a six-yard run before Fisher trotted out Bironas a down early — on third down — to boot the winner.
The Packers, who called a timeout before Bironas’ kick in regulation, tried the same “icing” strategy in the overtime prior to Bironas’ game-deciding effort.
The field goal was the last of seven in the contest, both Bironas and Green Bay’s Mason Crosby each kicking three beforehand.
The Titans’ lone touchdown came on a three-yard Johnson run late in the second quarter that gave them a 13-10 halftime lead. White’s 54-yard burst set up the TD.
Green Bay had spotted Tennessee a 6-0 lead on kicks of 31 and 25 yards by Bironas, but scored 10 straight point to take a brief advantage before Johnson’s scoring play. Crosby’s 23-yard field goal and a five-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Donald Driver put the Packers temporarily in front 10-6.
Tennessee doubled its three-point lead with the aid of the lone turnover in the game in the third quarter. Rodgers was blasted by Jacob Ford, who had his first two career sacks in the game, and Steven Tulloch recovered a loose ball caused by the hit at the GB 17. The Packers did limit the damage though, to Bironas’ 23-yard field goal.
The Packers got three-pointers from 25 and 38 yards from Crosby, the second tying things up at 16 with 5:30 to play.
Green Bay then held the Titans to a three-and-out and moved just inside Tennessee territory before punting the ball back to Tennessee with two minutes to play.
Stymied until then over the final two quarters, Collins hit on 4-of-5 passes for 48 yards to lead Tennessee from its own eight to the Packers’ 29 where Fisher elected to milk the clock down to four seconds rather than running another play or two. Bironas though, said he scraped his foot on the turf, causing his would-be game-winning boot at the horn to not hook inside the upright.
Rodgers, who was anointed Green Bay’s QB of the future and jettisoned the trade of Packer icon Brett Favre to the New York Jets, signed a long-term contract extension on Sunday and had far-better numbers than Collins despite the loss. He completed 22-of-41 for 314 yards, while Collins was 18-of-37 for 180 yards.
The Titans will now play two straight road games — at Chicago and Jacksonville — before returning home to play the New York Jets on Nov. 23.
GAME NOTES: A pair of former Martin Westview High School standouts saw only limited playing time for the Packers. Starting offensive tackle Chad Clifton, a regular for Green Bay up front for eight seasons, began the game in the lineup, but came out of the game for what the team called a reaction to medication for an illness. Defensive tackle Justin Harrell, who was activated on Saturday for the first time this season after suffering a back injury lifting weights this summer, got a handful of snaps, and recorded three tackles. …Titans’ All-Pro defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch started, but played just briefly because of an injured groin. Linebacker Keith Bulluck suffered a cartlege injury to his ribs, but returned after leaving the contest for a short period.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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