ST. LOUIS—Tennessee’s defense bounced back from a gaffe and its offense used bruising backs to score 16 unanswered points Saturday night in St. Louis.
The Titans’ first time on the road under new coach Mike Munchak started adversely with an 83-yard touchdown pass from Rams quarterback Sam Bradford to Brandon Gibson. It was the first time the Titans have trailed under Munchak, who was curious to see how his team would respond.
“We put that one in the trash can after it happened. That’s it,” linebacker Will Witherspoon said. “That was the first play out of the box; now let’s focus on what we need to do. I think we did that.”
The Titans’ defense recovered during its next opportunity when cornerback
The Titans held the Rams to 70 yards and zero points the rest of the half by blitzing Bradford and containing Rams running back Stephen Jackson, who was held to 10 yards on six carries.
Witherspoon and Finnegan each sacked Bradford on blitzes. Witherspoon, in his 10th season in the NFL, dropped the second-year QB for a loss of 10 on third down, and Finnegan, a six-year pro, dropped Bradford for a loss of 6 to force a punt on the Rams’ next possession.
“We said we wanted to start with a challenge in the beginning and we got one — a big play by them to get the lead and get the points,” Munchak said. “I think we did a nice job after that, defense did a great job. They settled down and adjusted after the blown coverage on the first play and pretty much shut them down the rest of the half; pretty much the rest of the game until the end. I thought the first group did a heck of a job (defensively).”
St. Louis, however, rallied for a 17-16 win on a 42-yard field goal by Josh Brown as time expired.
|Rookie RB |
RUNNING BACKS CARRY LOAD: Tennessee played without its two leading rushers—
Titans rookie Jamie Harper, a fourth-round selection out of Clemson, started at running back and ran 11 times for 83 yards. Harper ran for tough yards and broke free with a 46-yard rush; he turned a short pass from
“It felt good to be able to get some bigger runs tonight,” left tackle
Munchak said Harper has been receiving second-team reps since he arrived and it showed this week.
“He improved from last week with his carries and he hit the hole hard, he hit the inside zone and the outside zone,” Munchak said. “He ran very well and that was encouraging to see. We asked him to step up earlier in the day and he did exactly that.”
Harper (5-foot-11, 233 pounds), Donaldson (5-11, 221) and Stafon Johnson (5-11, 222) often delivered as strong of a hit as they received from Rams tacklers. Munchak said he was pleased with the performance of all three running backs.
“Any time a defender was around him, he took it right at him,” Roos said of Harper. “It was good to see him running so hard, and I’m happy for him.”
PASSING REPORT: Hasselbeck was 7-of-9 passing for 79 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He led the Titans’ first three offensive possessions to the touchdown by Harper and a pair of field goals by
Hasselbeck’s leadership of the Titans’ fifth possession ended prematurely when he landed awkwardly after completing a pass to
Titans rookie QB
Locker played into the fourth quarter and finished 8-of-18 passing for 82 yards. He faced multiple blitzes by St. Louis and threw a costly interception that James Butler returned to the Tennessee 21-yard-line. The Rams scored on a touchdown pass from A.J. Feeley to Donnie Avery two plays later.