Titans have perfect answers
Posted: Monday, November 17, 2008 6:09 pm
By: By MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Eight defenders in the box? Kerry Collins threw deep.
Cornerbacks Nick Harper and Eric King injured? Third-stringer Chris Carr stepped up.
Double-digit deficit? The Tennessee Titans rallied. No matter the situation, the Titans keep finding ways to remain unbeaten.
Collins threw three touchdown passes, Albert Haynesworth dominated defensively and Tennessee improved to 10-0 with a 24-14 victory over the fading Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
“It’s great,” Haynesworth said. “People keep counting us out and we like proving the world wrong, I guess.”
Tennessee overcame a 14-3 halftime deficit, won their seventh consecutive regular-season road game and likely eliminated the Jaguars (4-6) from postseason contention.
“It’s absolutely as dismal an outlook as you can have and not be out,” Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said. “We’d have to win every one to have a chance to qualify.”
The Titans, meanwhile, moved a step closer to clinching the AFC South and wrapping up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Collins, Haynesworth and Carr deserve much of the credit for the team’s latest victory.
Collins directed consecutive touchdown drives to open the third quarter, turning an 11-point deficit into a three-point lead.
He sealed the victory with a perfect 38-yard TD pass to Justin Gage with 3:57 remaining. Collins and Gage also hooked up for a 56-yard score in the third quarter — the only third-down conversion for the Titans. They were 1-of-12 on third down.
“That makes it even worse,” said Jaguars cornerback Drayton Florence, who was beaten on the 56-yarder.
Collins finished 13-of-23 for 230 yards and Gage caught four passes for 147 yards.
Rookie Chris Johnson ran for 64 yards, not nearly the factor he was when these teams met in the season opener.
Collins was the difference in the rematch.
“It’s tough for defenses to stop us,” Gage said. “A lot of people say we can’t do this. We can win and we like to prove them wrong.”
While Collins carried the offense, Haynesworth and Carr settled down the defense. The Titans, who sacked David Garrard seven times in the opener and held the Jaguars to a season-low 33 yards rushing, clamped down in the second half.
Garrard had little time, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew had little room and Jacksonville had little chance of staying out front.
Haynesworth, who had two sacks in the opener, was in the backfield on just about every play and finished with seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
Carr was nearly as good off the bench, getting on the field because Harper (ankle) was inactive and King re-broke the arm he injured last year.
Garrard tried to pick on Carr, but it backfired. Carr knocked down three passes and had a late interception, a floater Garrard called “a gift there at the end.”
“He didn’t play like a third corner,” Garrard added. “We tried to (pick on him). Whenever you’ve got guys out, you have to do that because they would be starting if they were that good.”
Garrard finished 13-of-30 for 135 yards with the interception and his second-worst passer rating (43.1) in 39 career starts. He was sacked four times, three in the second half.
“They were definitely turning their dials up a little bit and we didn’t match it,” Garrard said. “That’s unfortunate because we had a perfect opportunity. We have to do a lot better than that, especially when the game’s on the line.”
Notes: Jaguars LB Mike Peterson, inactive last week after getting sent home for insubordination, played mostly on special teams and in a backup role. … Jacksonville set a franchise record with 10 punts. … The Titans also played without defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) and receiver Justin McCareins (concussion).