The Cleveland Browns did not have much of a chance to win today’s game against the Tennessee Titans, but the Titans made the game interesting with poor play.
Tennessee was plagued with penalties, poor passing and special teams mistakes. However, the Titans defense saved the day and rookie Chris Johnson eclipsed the 1000-yard mark as the Titans won ugly.
Tennessee clinched the AFC South division title and improved to a league-best 12-1 record.
Story of the Game: Keep Chris Johnson on the field!
After the Titans established a 21-6 lead in the third quarter, LenDale White was the primary ball carrier on three consecutive offensive series. I wondered why.
Was offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger trying to help Chris Johnson avoid hitting a rookie wall by limiting his carries?
Did Heimerdinger forget that the Titans offense tends to struggle in the third quarter?
On the first of the three series, White fumbled a short pass reception from Collins.
The second series ended with a Collins interception.
The Titans went three-and-out on the third series.
When the Titans decided to start a series with Chris Johnson, he scored on a 25-yard run.
Chris Johnson is the Titans’ best offensive player. He ran for 155 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns. Johnson also led the Titans with four receptions.
Johnson is the engine that propels the Titans offense. He is a threat to defenses with and without the ball in his hands.
LenDale White fell one yard short of 100 yards today. White is doing a great job complementing Johnson, but he is not the Titans’ best playmaker.
Johnson, not White, needs to be on the field at the beginning of every offensive series.
The Other Story of the Game: Titans defense locks down Browns
The Titans defense held Browns running back Jamal Lewis to seven yards on seven carries. Third-string quarterback Ken Dorsey threw the ball 43 times but was never a threat, as he completed 22 passes for 150 yards.
Titans safety Michael Griffin intercepted a Dorsey pass early in the third quarter and ran 36 yards to put the Titans in scoring position. The interception was Griffin’s fifth of the season.
The defensive line, led by Jevon Kearse, pressured Dorsey all day. Jacob Ford had the Titans’ lone sack.
Some observers will overlook Collins two interceptions and 155-yard passing performance against the Browns. Thankfully, Tennessee did not need a big performance from Collins, due to the success of the running game.
However, if a playoff opponent sells out to stop the run, as the Chicago Bears did in week 10, Collins will be expected to move the ball in the passing game.
Is Collins still capable of getting the passing game into a groove?
Next Week: The Houston Texans
The Texans have won three consecutive games, including today’s victory against the Packers in Green Bay. Houston did not deserve to win today, but the Packers could not capitalize on the Texans’ propensity to turn over the football and lost by a field goal.
Nevertheless, the Titans formula for success against the Texans remains the same: put pressure on quarteback Matt Schaub (and Sage Rosenfels, if and when Schaub leaves the game with injury), contain up-and-coming rookie running back Steve Slaton, and wear down the Texans defense with a balanced attack.
The Titans need more victories to clinch home-field advantage in the playoffs. Pittsburgh and Indianapolis are chasing. Let’s keep it that way.
Watch highlights of the Titans-Browns at NFL.com.