Titans beat former coach Fisher, Rams 28-21

One last time, Jeff Fisher said it was just the next game on the

schedule, ignoring all those familiar faces on the other sideline.

Mike Munchak, too, noting he’s not one to socialize before

games.

Occasionally, there were reminders it was a game, and a reunion,

too.

”When I saw Coach on the screen because I was looking up to see

the replay, I did realize that `Oh yeah, Coach Fish is on the other

side,”’ Munchak said after the Tennessee Titans’ 28-21 victory

over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

The matchup had connections galore, even if, as Fisher noted,

Tennessee had just 16 players remaining from his last season in

2010.

It definitely meant a lot to some of them.

”If you can get any closer to a Super Bowl without it being a

Super Bowl, that’s what it was for me,” said Rams cornerback

Cortland Finnegan, in his second year with St. Louis since leaving

Tennessee. ”It was staying up late and watching extra film and

doing everything I could to prepare myself.”

Rams tight end Jared Cook, who tied the score in the fourth

quarter with a 10-yard catch, is a former Titans player. He’s just

one of many with ties on both sides.

Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey really wanted to beat some

ex-teammates.

”This was a game for some bragging rights,” Casey said. ”They

were talking some trash to us. They wanted to win and we wanted to

win. We did and that’s good.”

”We worked, we came back on a short week against a good

opponent, and didn’t get it done,” Fisher said.

Five reasons why the Titans ended a three-game losing streak

coming off their bye week and the Rams lost their third in a

row:

NO STATS, JUST WINS: Titans quarterback Jake Locker was 13 for

23 for 185 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions,

pedestrian numbers. He’ll take the bottom line. ”Everybody is

good. You’re going to have games where you look at the stat line

and you’re like `mediocre,’ but when you look over and see a `W’

next to it that makes all those things feel better,” Locker

said.

DEFENSE REGRESSES: Six days after the Rams held Seattle to 135

yards, Chris Johnson put up more by himself with 150 yards on 23

carries. The Titans and Rams each totaled 363 yards, a big step

back for St. Louis. ”They’re correctable things but you can’t be

saying these things are correctable in Week 9,” defensive end

Chris Long said. ”We can’t be one team one week and another team

another week.”

TEAM UNITY: Johnson’s first three seasons with the Titans,

running backs and offensive linemen met together with position

coaches after practice on Thursdays. At Johnson’s behest, they

returned to that tradition. Then they put up a season-best 198

yards rushing. ”I don’t know why we got away from it but I think

it helped us,” Johnson said. ”We all talked, we all got on the

same page. It’s a small, minor thing but it worked.”

RUNNING RAMS: After four games, the Rams were last in the league

in rushing and averaging just 47 yards. There’s been a noticeable

improvement since rookie Zac Stacy took over at running back.

They’re averaging 133 yards rushing in the last five games,

including back-to-back 100-yard games by Stacy. ”Zac’s been great.

I think he’s been the highlight of our team for a good few weeks

now,” receiver Austin Pettis said. ”He’s been running very hard.

He kind of just goes there and doesn’t say much at all. He’s just a

worker. That’s something we definitely needed on this team.”

STREAKING STATS: Johnson and Stacy both scored their first two

touchdowns rushing, and Stacy’s were the first on the ground all

year for the Rams. The Titans ran for three touchdowns altogether,

matching their season total entering the game. Johnson entered with

115 carries, the most in the NFL without a TD, and Stacy had been

second with none in 76 carries. Titans wide receiver Nate

Washington’s streak with at least one catch come to an end. Titans

free safety Michael Griffin missed the first game of his career

with a right quadriceps injury, ending a string of 103 consecutive

starts.

AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org