It’s time to prove that I am a mature, forward-thinker and finally get over the fact that Chris Chambers didn’t catch that fourth-down pass the first time the Titans met the Chargers. That wasn’t the reason why they lost. They lost because Philip Rivers played like Ryan Leaf for 52 minutes of the game and played like Tom Brady for the final eight. The Titans slowed down Tomlinson for most of the game but faded in the final quarter. News flash: Tomlinson is freaking good, and any coach worth his salt (even Norv Turner) is going to lean on him if he wants to win.
Before we get too worked up about the injuries to Bo Scaife and Roydell Williams, look at the stats from the first game. Scaife had 14 receiving yards and Roydell led the team with 30. That’s not what I call a big impact. Naturally the Titans ran the ball a ton, led by LenDale White’s career-high 30 carries.
Kevin Mawae’s return is huge. The Titans need leadership on the offensive line, especially when dealing with the two Sha(w or u)ns in pass protection. Long, sustained drives, especially those that end up in points, are critical.
Third downs are going to be big for Vince. In the Jets game, it seemed like it was always third and six, and the Titans always failed. Last week Kerry Collins hit a lot of third-down passes, including a tough pass to Roydell Williams that got the Titans out of a tough spot on the game-winning drive.
Does the defense have any magic left? In the Jets game, it took an Antwan Odom blocked field goal and a Keith Bulluck end-zone pick to help clinch the game. Michael Griffin stripped Reggie Wayne of the ball during the critical first drive of last week’s game. It was pressure by Vandenbosch and Haynesworth that led to Rivers’ first interception and a Titan touchdown.
Chris Henry will have to make some plays. I’m going to need some heavy drinking to get over that statement.
Here’s a sign that the Titans’ passing game isn’t going to win the game. In 16 games, the Titans had more passing yards than their opponent six times. They had the leading receiver five times.
I’m pretty up to date on Titan injuries, so I decided to see how the Chargers were feeling. Lorenzo Neal is doubtful, and someone named Marques Harris is questionnable. Nate Kaeding is probable, so maybe he can miss another clutch kick.
When your starting QB and RB are questionnable and your second and third receivers are out, that’s not good. It’s going to take a major effort for the Titans to win. They need a first-drive touchdown followed by a big defensive stop. The Chargers know that they can come back, but they do have some rough recent playoff experience.
The last time the Titans lost a Wild Card game, they were the Oilers. The Bills rallied from a 35-3 halftime deficit to win. The team is 7-4 overall in Wild Card games. I doubt that many franchises have played more such games since the Wild Card round has been around for about 30 years and used to be one game.
Amazing facts about the game: The Chargers are undefeated in the playoffs when wearing their new jerseys. The Titans are undefeated in playoff games started by Vince Young. Think about it.
In 1999, the Titans had a first-time playoff QB most experts thought couldn’t lead his team to the Super Bowl. Steve McNair won his first three playoff games that year. He would win only two more. I think Vince Young’s playoff glory days are in the future. I don’t know if I can re-live flashbacks to the Titans last playoff game if they win this week and have to travel to New England for a Saturday night showdown. They might not have enough players left to field a team at that point.