Rookie Derrick Morgan, free agent signee Jason Babin, and Jacob Ford took turns sacking Jason Campbell, while Jovan Haye, Tony Brown, and Jason Jones applied further pressure in helping the Titans defeat the Raiders 38 – 13. While rotating defensive lineman has always been a staple of the Titans defense, the strategy paid extra dividends today as the Raider offensive line appeared to be too big and slow to keep up with the quick and well rested Titan defenders.
The Titans’ offense capitalized on their defenses dominance, scoring 5 touchdowns and displaying a balanced attack. The Raiders defense got off to a good start as they keyed on Chris Johnson early, limiting him to just 1 yard on his first 7 touches. The strategy initially paid off, at least in regards to containing the Titans’ explosive running back, but it also exposed the Raiders pass defense to the play action pass. The Titans first score of the game came off of a fake to Johnson, which froze Raider cornerback Stanford Routt and allowed Nate Washington to go deep for an easy 56 yard score. From that point on Johnson began to find holes in the Raider defense, and eventually broke a 76 yard run which seemed to end the game in the 2nd quarter. It also put Johnson over 100 yards for the 12th straight game.
The big plays and great defensive play allowed the Titans’ offense to keep things simple for most of the day. Nate Washington was the only Titan wide receiver to catch a pass, as Young focused more on passing to Johnson, Bo Scaife, and Craig Stevens.
The end result was the Titans’ most convincing season opening win since the team moved to Tennessee. The blowout win also shows that the 2010 Titans will not fall into the same hole as the 2009 Titans, a team that was severely limited due to their 0-6 start. Head coach Jeff Fisher shared those same sentiments in his post game press conference:
“Well, we expected to win that game last year. We didn’t. We expected to win this and fortunately we put together a good effort in all three phases. We came through it in great health and now we’re going to move on to number two.”
Game number two comes at home against the Steelers next week. If the Titans’ defensive line comes through then as it did today, then it will be a very long day for the Steelers.
Player focus – Craig Stevens, Tight End
This weeks individual player focus is on the Titans 3rd year Tight End from California. The Titans needed Stevens to fill the void left by the departure of Alge Crumpler, and today Stevens did that and more. Stevens looked to be just as good of a blocker as Crumpler was in 2008 and 2009, while also being much more mobile. Stevens ability to line up on the line, and in the backfield, gave the Titans’ offense a dimension it didn’t previously have with Crumpler. At some points the Titans had fullback Ahmard Hall and Stevens in the backfield, which mimicked a 3 running back look. Having Hall and Stevens in the backfield meant that there was no strong or weak side of the formation, something that likely caught the Raiders defense by surprise. Stevens’ mobility was even more apparent on his 2 receptions. On both catches he caught the ball without losing his balance and managed to turn his big body upfield and get some much needed yards after the catch.
You can find this, and other articles of mine at www.profootballsouth.com .