Turning Point of the Game: Heimerdinger puts Chris Johnson on ice
A tip of the hat to Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger. With 5:51 remaining in the third quarter, Tennessee trailed Philadelphia 16-7. Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb had been playing well and showed no signs of slowing down. Heimerdinger decided to stop force-feeding the ball to Chris Johnson and give Kerry Collins a chance to score points through the air.
Collins, who had thrown two interceptions, led a methodical drive which ended with a field goal. The Titans didn’t get into the end zone, but the tone had been set for the rest of the game.
The Titans were in it to win it.
We all know what happened in the fourth quarter. Twenty-seven points. Are you kidding me?
The Other Turning Point of the Game: Verner!
Never in my life have I said or written the words “man crush.” However, there may be no other way to describe the way I feel about rookie cornerback Alterraun Verner.
Defensive tackle Jason Jones made a great play prior to the aforementioned Titans field goal drive. The Eagles were on the way to what may have been a game-sealing touchdown. On first and goal at the three-yard line, Jones reached for running back LeSean McCoy and forced a fumble. Verner ran from his right cornerback post, dived into the scrum and recovered the fumble.
Intelligence. Courage. Competitiveness. Desire. Skill. That’s Alterraun Verner, Tennessee’s emerging defensive star.
OK, about that Britt fellow…
Kenny Britt may have had one of the greatest two-and-a-half quarters in NFL history.
Bench by coach Jeff Fisher for his part in a Friday morning nightclub altercation (wasn’t the dangers of NFL players hanging out at nightclubs discussed at the 2009 Rookie Symposium?), Britt caught a touchdown pass in his first series.
In the second half, Britt dominated the Eagles secondary the way Michael Jordan dominated opponents in a must-win NBA playoff game. His speed, power and leaping ability were on full display as Collins wisely threw the football in the air for Britt to retrieve. Number 18 finished with 7 catches for 225 yards and 3 TDs in a performance for the ages.
Eagles have a nice problem
I expected the Titans to lose, and until the fourth quarter, I thought I’d be giving props to Kolb for leading the Eagles to a tough road victory. He was only sacked once and threw the ball well, aside from one interception by Michael Griffin (the Cortland Finnegan was good for style points).
Kolb’s a good quarterback. So is Michael Vick.
Quarterback controversy in Nashville?
I’m happy the Titans decided to pay Collins the big bucks and keep him on the roster. During his short career, Vince Young has missed a handful of games due to injury, and Collins is a savvy, capable backup. But to hear one prominent member of the mainstream sports media (and I’m sure there will be others, including a subset of Titans fans) suggest that there might be a quarterback controversy in Tennessee is preposterous.
Next Week: San Diego Chargers
Norv Turner is in a battle with Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips for the title of most incompetent NFL head coach. The responsibility for San Diego’s struggles is shared by the team’s front office and players, but I have rarely seen a coach make so many head-scratching decisions during games that place his talented players in a position to fail.
That being said, San Diego whipped the Titans last year in Nashville. Vince Young had better be ready. The Chargers play a 3-4 defense, are desperate, and have a quarterback in Philip Rivers who can sling it with the best of them.