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News » Thus far, Titans' perfection pales


Thus far, Titans' perfection pales


Thus far, Titans' perfection pales
Leave it to the New England Patriots to take all the fun out of something.


Even without Tom Brady, and even with the resultant four New England losses in 10 games, spoilsport Bill Belichick and the Pats have killed what should be a major buzz in Tennessee. The Titans are looking to add another zero to their unbeaten record, trying to make it 10-0 today at Jacksonville.

Zzzzzzzzz.

Either nobody believes the Titans have the stuff to finish the regular season perfect or almost nobody cares, courtesy of the Patriots, who lived through all this a year ago and made it happen. Thus, the novelty and sense of history that had existed since the 1972 Miami Dolphins are gone.

Sixteen-and-oh? Oh, please. Wake me up when they reach the AFC Championship Game.

All of this is grossly unfair to the Titans, a marvelous bunch that everybody else would just as soon not play between here and Tennessee's first loss. Already a get-after-it team, the Titans are playing with more of a chip on their shoulder with every week.

"First, they say we have a weak schedule," immovable object Albert Haynesworth, the possible Defensive Player of the Year, told reporters. "Everybody looked at our schedule at the beginning of the season and said it was tough, saying we had no shot at being 9-0 right now. Now it's all different. Whatever."

Indeed, as we know so well in San Diego, things don't go as expected. That "tough" schedule Tennessee had? Those opponents are currently 34-47. And only one of those teams is in the downtrodden AFC West, albeit the eight-loss Kansas City Chiefs.

The record of Tennessee opponents between now and the postseason, where the Titans surely will have a week off, is 28-36. Included are three teams -- the division-leading Jets (7-3), division co-leading Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) and resurgent Indianapolis (5-4) -- with winning records.

Now get a load of the Jaguars, for whom the zeroes also keep on coming, like today's visit by the 9-0 Titans. The Jags then have consecutive games against lowly teams, the Cincinnati Bengals (1-8) and Detroit Lions (0-9).

"Goliath is coming to town," Jags coach Jack Del Rio said of the Titans. "We'll see if we can't find a few nice-sized pebbles and load up our slingshots."

J'ville already may have done enough of a disservice to the rest of the league. It was in the season opener that Tennessee lost quarterback Vince Young, KO'd when hit by the Jaguars' Darryl Smith. Since veteran Kerry Collins came off the bench to replace Young, the Titans have been unbeatable.

To this point.

Body parts count

When he carries the ball or blocks against the Chargers today, Steelers running back Willie Parker will be braced, a harness holding his shoulder into place after it has been popping in and out. A similar gizmo was worn last Sunday by teammate Ryan Clark, a safety with a dislocated shoulder.

"It's still attached," Clark told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when asked how the shoulder has felt since. "Unlike my spleen and gall bladder, I still have one."

Clark, who bears the sickle-cell trait, suffered a bad blood reaction to the Mile High altitude of Denver last year and had to have those organs removed. Tough town, that Tampa

Maybe it's difficult to play while still in the thawing-out process. How else to explain why the Vikings, while holding an overall edge of 31-19 over the Buccaneers, haven't won a game at Tampa Bay since 1996. Minnesota's no better than 13-12 in road games against the Bucs, who host the Vikes again today.

"I've been here since 1998, and I know I've never won there," center Matt Birk said, noting that the Bucs have been a pretty good franchise over the past 12 years. Asked what the deal is, he said: "If I knew, we wouldn't have a problem. We used to try everything. We'd have team dinners and sing `Kumbaya' and everything, and it just never worked. Even in 1998, we were 15-1 and that was the game we lost."

Un-Jake-like

He had no such problems in his first trip to the AFC West this season, beating the Chargers with precision passing, but it was a different Jake Delhomme throwing the ball for the Panthers in Oakland. He was just 7-of-27 for 72 yards, including four interceptions and a single TD, a QB rating of 12.3 that you wouldn't even think possible. Yet Carolina won.

Delhomme spent so much time chasing around the guys who had picked off his passes that he said he was disappointed when the Defensive Player of the Week was announced. Disappointed that it wasn't him.

Here and there

* Remember that Fouts fellow from a few years back? By the time Dan Fouts finished his career in San Diego, he had thrown for 300 yards or more in 51 of 181 games, an impressive 28.2 percent that ranks second all-time in the NFL. That's because Kurt Warner's done it 46 times in 102 games, a dumbfounding 45.1 percent. Sixteen of those games have come with the Cardinals, including his past three starts.

* Speaking of Giants quarterbacks past and present -- Warner did a year (2004) with New York -- expect to see lots of them in the postseason. The Cardinals are zooming to their first division title since 1975 -- remember that Don Coryell fellow? -- and Collins has kept the Tennessee Titans unbeaten. Eli Manning, for the record, already is off to the best start (38-26) of any Giants QB in his first 64 games.

* Well, at least the Chargers got to see London. Their loss to the Saints three weeks back was part of an extraordinary home run this season by the NFC South, which is 17-1 when hosting games. The Saints were the home team in the game at Wembley.

Quotable

"The whole game, I kept smelling my jersey. I thought one of the coaches was drinking. But that was the beer they dumped on me." -- Packers punt-returner Will Blackmon, doused by the crowd when doing the "Lambeau Leap"

The Union-Tribune contributes to -- and uses information from -- a national network of pro Football correspondents.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 18, 2008

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