A nationally-televised audience saw what happens to a team that lost its best player during the offseason, lost its depth at secondary, and refuses to give its team a spark by benching a journeyman quarterback.
Peyton Manning was magnificent as his team handed Tennessee its fifth straight loss.
Story of the Game: Same story, different game
Here’s the losing formula for the 2009 Titans:
- Poor secondary play: Nick Harper broke his arm during the game, and the Titans found themselves with Jason McCourty, Ryan Mouton and practice squad call-up Cary Williams at cornerback. The Colts played a couple of rookie cornerbacks, but they made plays. The Titans corners and safeties did not.
- No sacks: The defensive line generated some pressure against Peyton Manning, forcing one interception by Keith Bulluck, but recorded no sacks. Give Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jacob Ford an assist on Indianapolis’ third touchdown drive. KVB and Ford were penalized 15 yards each for roughing the passer. Manning finished the drive with a 39-yard touchdown strike to Austin Collie.
- Sluggish offense: Kerry Collins did not help the Titans score a touchdown, and as usual, did not attempt enough passes downfield. Alge Crumpler fumbled on Tennessee’s first offensive possession, and the Colts quickly capitalized on a short touchdown drive.
The Other Story of the Game: Manning being Manning
Peyton Manning, the NFL’s best quarterback, is arguably having his best season. He was patient throughout and was not rattled by the Titans defensive line pressure. He also did not point at his knees and beckon to officials when Vanden Bosch tackled him low (a la Tom Brady). Bulluck’s interception spoiled a near-perfect evening: 36 of 44 for 309 yards, a pick, and three touchdowns.
Did the Titans miss Albert Haynesworth?
Of course. Again, the D line did not get a sack; however, the unit continues to succeed against the run.
Jevon Kearse was healthy but was placed on the inactive list along with Sen’Derrick Marks. William Hayes started at defensive end and Dave Ball saw playing time. Kevin Vickerson did his best Albert Haynesworth impression by successfully pushing the pocket, but his lack of discipline will keep him out of the starting lineup.
The running game
Chris Johnson had an off-night, rushing for 34 yards on 9 carries. The Colts defensive scheme kept him from running outside and he was either reluctant or unable to run inside. LenDale White led the Titans with 51 yards on 10 carries.
Vince Young plays
In a somewhat surprising move, given coach Jeff Fisher‘s commitment to Collins, Vince Young took a few snaps. Whoop de do. This move was made one game, three quarters, and 7:34 too late. I thought Fisher should have started VY in the Jacksonville game. Young didn’t complete a pass during two short-lived series.
After the game, Fisher said Collins is still the starting quarterback and “Kerry’s not the problem.” Fisher’s right: KC is not the problem, but he’s one of a number of problems that starts with Titans management and coaches.
How bad is this team?
During the 7:00 p.m. EST SportCenter, Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Trent Dilfer and John Saunders had a few laughs at the expense of the NFL”s worst teams, referring to them as “tomato cans.” The crew gave credit to the erratic Dallas Cowboys for winning a close game in overtime by stomping a tomto can, the winless Kansas City Chiefs.
The 2009 Tennessee Titans are now a tomato can… weak and easily defeated.
As a point of reference, Jacksonville, who whooped Tennessee in week four, was blown out and shut out by the Seahawks, 41-0.
The Titans are 0-5. No team has ever opened the season 0-5 and made the playoffs.
Are the Titans as bad as the Rams? Could they outscore the Bills? Could they outscore Tampa Bay?
Can we officially put Jeff Fisher on the hot seat?
Next Week: New England Patriots
The Pats are licking their wounds after a tough loss in Denver, and the now-woeful Titans are just the salve they need. Should Tennessee save money and reduce its carbon footprint by forfeiting this game?
Paul Kuharsky’s commentary and statistical analysis of last night’s game is outstanding.
Here’s a great quote from Keith Bulluck from the Nashville City Paper: “We put in the work in the preseason and we’ve failed five tests. It’s like you study, you study and you keep failing tests. It’s hard when you’re failing your favorite subject.” It’s also hard to continue writing about your favorite team that’s gone from best to worst record in less than a year.