CJ now ready to carry Titans
Posted: Monday, December 5, 2011 7:01 pm
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck did his part in getting the Tennessee Titans this far into the playoff hunt. Chris Johnson’s happy to take over from here.
The Titans ground game is sprouting legs now that Johnson has shown more signs that he’s re-emerged from what had been a two-month slumber.
CJ rushed for 153 yards and scored twice in securing a 23-17 win over the slumping Buffalo Bills on Sunday. It’s the third time in four games Johnson’s had at least 100 yards, and it’s no coincidence that the Titans have won all three times to climb into a logjam of five teams with 7-5 records.
“At the beginning of the season, the passing game carried us, and now it’s time for the running game to step it up,” said Johnson, who has 486 of his 852 yards rushing in his past four games. “The offensive line and everything is hitting on all cylinders right now, and hopefully we can continue to keep this momentum going.”
Johnson doubled his season touchdown total by scoring from 48 and four yards on consecutive possessions in getting the Titans out to a 17-7 lead.
Rob Bironas hit three field goals, including a 44-yarder to make it 23-10 with nine minutes left. Hasselbeck was efficient, going 16-of-25 for 140 yards passing. And the Titans defense generated two turnovers, and forced Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw three straight incompletions to end the Bills last drive in the final minute.
The praise was left to Johnson, who’s electric running style is sparking the Titans’ confidence.
“That’s the CJ that I know,” cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “If there is a time you want someone to peak, it’s now. … It’s going to be scary when he starts having some 250-yard games. I can’t wait for that.”
The Bills (5-7) have very little left to look forward to but playing games for pride, in the midst of a five-game skid that has all but mathematically knocked them out of the hunt. A month after Buffalo was battling New England and the Jets for top spot in the AFC East, the team’s now in attempting to hold off Miami (4-8) for last place in the division.
“It’s disappointing. I’ve never lost five in a row,” linebacker Nick Barnett said. “This is new territory for me and I’m sure for a lot of guys. It doesn’t feel good. They don’t like it and I don’t like it.”
C.J. Spiller rushed for a career-best 83 yards and scored on a 35-yard scamper in which he recovered his own fumble just before sliding out of the end zone. Stevie Johnson made the game close, scoring on a 2-yard touchdown catch with 2:58 remaining.
At least Johnson, this time, kept his TD celebration in check, a week after being criticized, flagged 15 yards and fined by the NFL $10,000 for a questionable display in a 28-24 loss to the New York Jets.
“Last week was last week,” said Johnson, who had five catches for 52 yards. “We moved on to the Titans and we tried to get this W and we came up short.”
Published in The Messenger 12.5.11