NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- First, Steve McNair and the Tennessee
Titans rolled over the Miami Dolphins. Then they watched and
cheered as the Jacksonville Jaguars gave them a helping hand in the
McNair threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns, and Tennessee
beat Miami 31-7 Sunday for its fourth straight victory and sixth in
the past seven games. Minutes later, the Titans watched in the
locker room as the Jaguars beat Indianapolis and moved the Titans
into a tie with the Colts.
Question on the Dolphins: How could the Dolphins come out and look so bad in a game like this?
The Dolphins don't seem to be a team that plays well against physical football teams. Physical teams hurt them late in the season because the Dolphins' defenders lose weight as the season wears on. It's time for them to start changing personnel, or people are going to start hopping off the bandwagon.
Question on the Titans: Why is this team even better than last year's version?
This team is better because quarterback Steve McNair is playing at an exceptional level this season. Also, the defense is playing solid football. They are extremely efficient and playing with a lot of emotion.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
"I guess the race is on as far as the players are concerned,"
Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
The Titans, trying not to look ahead to their Dec. 7 game with
Indianapolis, are starting to look like the team that won the AFC
South last season by taking 10 of 11 games in one span.
Miami (5-4) came in allowing just 13.8 points per game, best in
the NFL, and the Dolphins had been unbeaten on the road this
season. None of that mattered against the Titans, who snapped a
five-game skid against Miami.
Tennessee improved to 7-2 by setting a franchise record of
scoring 30 or more points for the sixth straight game. The defense
sacked Brian Griese four times and forced him into two fumbles and
three interceptions that the Titans turned into 17 points.
"What's better for an offense than to see the defense score?"
Coach Dave Wannstedt said the Dolphins knew what to expect. Now
a team that targeted the Super Bowl finds itself in serious
"There's no turning back now. If we're going to do anything, if
we're going to make a run, it starts this week," Wannstedt said.
McNair lost his first three starts against Miami. This time, he
came in as the NFL's top-rated passer, and his offensive line kept
Miami from sacking him at all. The Dolphins had a chance at only
one interception, but the ball bounced off safety Brock Marion's
hands in the first quarter.
Instead, McNair picked apart a defense already missing Pro Bowl
linebacker Zach Thomas (strained groin). Cornerback Patrick
Surtain, who leads the AFC with six interceptions, stayed on the
sideline with a sprained ankle.
"I got that monkey off my back finally ...," McNair said.
"Today, I just wanted to be patient, take what they gave me and
not hurt the team in a way to stop any drives."
Tennessee so controlled the game that McNair, who was 17-of-23,
went to the bench early in the fourth quarter.
The Titans held the ball for more than 37 minutes, including
nearly 12 of the first quarter in which they had 162 yards offense
compared to just 21 for Miami. They finished with 324 yards
compared to 224 for Miami.
McNair started the Titans off quickly as he went 3-for-4 for 68
yards on the first possession, which he capped with a 12-yard toss
to rookie Tyrone Calico, who dived into the end zone.
Miami won a challenge of a 25-yard TD pass to Calico on which
his right foot was out of bounds on the next drive, but that only
postponed the inevitable. The Titans held the ball for six more
plays and scored on a 2-yard TD run by Eddie George for a 14-0
Griese, starting his third straight game, was sacked three times
and fumbled twice in the first half alone. Robaire Smith stripped
him on the third sack just before halftime, and Albert Haynesworth
recovered and ran 12 yards to the Miami 24 .
"We couldn't run it, and we couldn't throw it," Griese said.
"That is not a good combination."
Facing the NFL's stingiest run defense, Miami never got Ricky
Williams going. He finished with 13 carries for 37 yards, and the
Dolphins managed just 59 rushing overall.
The Titans have won nine straight at home. They also have
outscored opponents 55-0 in the first quarter of their past four
games. ... Tennessee extended its NFL-best streak to 25 home games
without allowing a 100-yard rusher. ... Titans DE Kearse now has
had at least one sack in six straight games. ... Miami WR Kendall
Newson, just activated off the practice squad, had a 37-yard
reception for the first catch of his career. ... The Dolphins were
1-for-10 on third-down conversions.
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