Roster  Schedule  Statistics 
On Now
Coming Up

News

Print
RSS

Notebook: Titans Handle "Sudden Change" Plays

Posted Nov 4, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans defenders and coach Mike Munchak said they were pleased with the way the defense handled a pair of “sudden change” moments the previous day in a 28-21 win at St. Louis.

The Titans got the ball at their own 12-yard line with 1:17 left in the first half and opted to be aggressive with the football against the Rams. With the score tied at 7, Jake Locker tried to hit Kenny Britt on a slant, but it was intercepted at the Tennessee 26 by former Titan Cortland Finnegan.

The defense went back on the field and limited Rams QB Kellen Clemens to three straight incompletions, the last of which was broken up by Bernard Pollard, to force a 44-yard field goal attempt by Greg Zuerlein that eased just wide right.  

“We call it a sudden change. Whenever something like that happens, the first interception putting our backs to the end zone and being able to stop them and have them miss a field goal, that’s huge,” cornerback Jason McCourty said. “When we can go on the field and have our mindset the right way, knowing they can’t score points, and if they’re in field-goal range, we have to make them attempt a field goal. We have to have our offense’s back if (the opponent creates) a turnover, we have to go out and stop them.”

After the Rams tied the game at 21 with a touchdown pass to former Titan Jared Cook, Locker tried to connect with Nate Washington, but the receiver got tangled up with Finnegan, and the ball was picked off by Rodney McLeod at the St. Louis 21.

Alterraun Verner and George Wilson come to congratulate Derrick Morgan after he recovered a fumble forced by Jurrell Casey in the fourth quarter of Tennessee's 28-21 win. Slideshow from the game.

This time, Tennessee’s defense brought the game-changing response when Jurrell Casey sacked and forced a fumble by Clemens that was recovered by Derrick Morgan at the 19.

“I just beat my guy around the edge and saw him try to tuck the ball and run up the middle earlier in the game,” Casey said. “He got us with one of those where he ran about 15 yards, and I knew we had to come up with a play to make that stop and luckily I got my hand on the ball and the ball came out.”

Chris Johnson delivered the game-winning score on the following play when he streaked to the right side of the offensive line through a hole created by tight end Craig Stevens and backup right tackle Mike Otto, who started in place of David Stewart (shoulder).

“Those are some things we’ve been able to avoid as an offense, and luckily, our defense, on both the sudden changes, didn’t give up any points,” Munchak said. “That’s one of the big differences with our defense from this year to last year is the mental toughness of that mentality of going out there after having a short field and then (holding them) to no points and actually getting a turnover right back to us the second time. We’re lucky we got away with that.”

The 363 total net yards and 160 net rushing yards allowed by the Titans were the second highest totals by opponents this season, but Tennessee held its fifth of eight foes so far to 21 points or less.

“Defensively, we had some struggles and things of that nature, but in those critical times, the players that were needed stepped up and made plays,” Alterraun Verner said.

The Titans also benefitted from a fumble recovery by Coty Sensabaugh at the Tennessee 10 after St. Louis had moved the ball 66 yards on its opening possession.  

PLAYED IT SAFE: Munchak said the Titans “played a little softer, played a little deeper” pass coverage because they were without free safety Michael Griffin (quadriceps). Veteran George Wilson, who has played most of his career at strong safety, filled in for Griffin.

“I think we were just being a little smart there for this game with him playing a new position that he hadn’t played,” Munchak said. “But, George plays well. George is a smart football player, and he’s a big part of this team on special teams and on defense. He did fine. With Griff, there’s a good chance he’ll be practicing all week, and I would assume he’d play next week.”

The injury snapped Griffin’s streak of never missing a game as a pro (103 regular season, two playoff contests). Munchak said Griffin lobbied hard to suit up, but the team made the best decision. He said he told Griffin he could begin working on another 100-game streak once he’s recovered.

SOLID JOB: Munchak said Otto was “solid” in filling in for Stewart, who suffered the shoulder injury Oct. 20 and hadn’t returned to full strength.

“He’s smart, he’s been around the game a lot, and it was good to have him next to (rookie) Chance (Warmack) for that reason on the road,” Munchak said. “I think he came in like he usually does and was pretty solid. He was tough in some of the pass games early. They have some good football players, but I thought he settled down and had some nice blocks on some of the nice runs CJ (Chris Johnson) had.”

OPEN WINDOW: Munchak said coaches have emphasized the importance of the three-game stretch in 11 days that started against the Rams and continues with contests against Jacksonville (0-8) and AFC South-leading Indianapolis (6-2).

“You’re getting in to what you want — this is the meat of the deal with two division games in 10 days,” Munchak said. “You win the next one then the next one becomes an even bigger game. We know we have to make our move, and yesterday was part of that. We needed that in a big way, and we got it. Now it’s Jacksonville.”

INJURY WATCH: In addition to keeping tabs on the progress Stewart and Griffin make this week, the Titans will also be evaluating linebacker Moise Fokou, who suffered a knee injury Oct. 13 at Seattle.  

“He’s doing pretty well. It’s hard to tell. He hopes to play this weekend,” Munchak said. “It’s a matter of will he be ready for this game, and then you play on Sunday and it’s a short week so you have to evaluate what’s best for him: can he play on a Sunday and come back and play on a Thursday? He’s close, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Munchak said Colin McCarthy has improved every week he’s filled in for Fokou.

“He’s playing physical, confident. I think it’s a good situation for us because linebackers, again this year, we’ve had trouble keeping them healthy,” Munchak said, “but I think Colin is starting to feel really good about what he’s being asked to do and running things out there.”

Munchak said Sammie Hill (elbow, shoulder) is expected to be OK by Sunday.

Recent Articles

Recent Videos

Recent Photos