Wounded Collins on target for Titans
Posted: Monday, November 10, 2008 3:59 pm
By: By ANDREW SELIGMAN, AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Kerry Collins reared back, fired away and nailed the target just as he got hit.
Then, he shrugged it off and had his best game, throwing for a season-high 289 yards and two touchdowns to lead the unbeaten Tennessee Titans to a 21-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
One thing: The big hit came two days earlier. And the target was a small deer, not a receiver.
“I shot a buck the other night with a muzzleloader,” Collins said, explaining a scratch on the bridge of his nose. “The thing kicked back and popped me. I wish I had a better story than that.”
He couldn’t ask for a better record, though.
Even though the hit left Collins bleeding, he looked good enough against the Bears and helped the Titans overcome one of the worst rushing performances in franchise history.
Now, they’re 9-0 even though they managed just 20 yards on the ground.
“It’s nice to win a ballgame and not play well,” coach Jeff Fisher said.
The 20 yards rushing were just one above their franchise low, and they had minus-5 in the first half. It was a stunning performance for a team that was third in the league entering the game.
Actually, some parts of the team performed well.
The Titans set a club record with their 12th straight regular-season win thanks to Collins and a defense that shut down Rex Grossman and the Bears.
Collins completed 12 straight passes at one point and was 30-of-41 without an interception. Brandon Jones caught eight passes for 82 yards, and Bo Scaife had 10 catches for 78 yards with a touchdown.
That was enough to make up for a miserable performance by the running backs.
LenDale White managed 14 yards on 10 attempts, although he had a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Chris Johnson carried 14 times for 8 yards.
“Did you look and see how many guys they put in the box?” Johnson said. “Eight, sometimes nine. They really wanted us to beat them throwing the ball.”
Tennessee did that well enough to remain the NFL’s lone unbeaten team.
“Everybody right now is filling their role,” said Collins, who took over for Vince Young after the first game. “For me, you play long enough you’re going to be on good teams. You’re going to be on bad teams. At this point in my career to be playing on a good football team that has a chance to go out and win every Sunday is exciting for me.”
Is this the best team he’s played on?
“We’re getting there,” said Collins, who played in a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. “We’re getting there.”
With Kyle Orton nursing a sprained ankle, Grossman delivered an uneven performance in his first start since Dec. 6. He was 20-for-37 for 173 yards and led the Bears (5-4) on a 75-yard touchdown drive on their first possession. He also got picked off on the next one.
Rookie Matt Forte struggled at times, running for 72 yards after setting a season-high with 126 against Detroit, and the offense managed 243 yards in all.
Coming off a 19-16 overtime win over Green Bay, the Titans took a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter when Collins connected with former Bear Justin Gage for a 12-yard touchdown — the first by a Tennessee wide receiver since the second game.
A 2-yard run by White early in the fourth quarter made it 21-7, but the Bears refused to go quietly.
Grossman fell into the end zone from the 1 to make it a seven-point game with 4:55 left after a 29-yard pass to Devin Hester. They had a chance to tie it after a punt, taking over at the Tennessee 41, but the Titans held firm again — even though outsiders keep insisting each week they’ll lose.
“Maybe they have some kind of angel around them or something. I don’t know,” Bears receiver Rashied Davis said.
Notes: While Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck appeared in his 106th straight game after cracking cartilage in his ribs against Green Bay, two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch sat out with a groin strain. … The Titans also got a scare in the third quarter when fullback Hall suffered a mild concussion after being hit by Lance Briggs. … Tennessee has rushed for 19 yards twice in a game, most recently when the Houston Oilers did it against San Diego on Dec. 12, 1965. … The 12 straight regular-season wins eclipses the previous mark set by Houston in 1993. … The minus-5 yards rushing were the fewest allowed by the Bears in a half since they held New England to minus-9 on Sept. 21, 1997.