By Chris Lambos
How bad is it being a St. Louis Rams fan these days? Well, it wasn’t too long ago the Titans found themselves at 0-6, so we probably have an idea of what 1-12 feels like. But by watching this game, I decided that Titans fans really have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season! For those who feel less than blessed, consider this timeless adage handed down through the generations:
“Enjoy your entire football season! There are starving fans in Missouri!”
Yes, the Titans hosted the Rams Sunday which was the first of a 3-game homestand at LP Field. When Rams faithful did not think things could get any worse for their one-win team, they did. With a starting QB and backup out with injuries, St. Louis called up 3rd stringer Keith Null for his NFL debut as a starter. Throwing a rookie QB into a game at 1-12 against one of the NFL’s hottest teams is a recipe for turnovers. And a ‘tired’ Steven Jackson, the league’s 2nd leading rusher behind Titans Chris Johnson, could only grind out 47 yards on 19 carries with the Titans D being free to concentrate more on stopping ‘the run’.
Not getting the picture? Consider this:
The Rams had 12 offensive drives in the contest: 5 ended with interceptions – 6 ended with punts.
For the recod, Null finished 27 of 43 for 157 yards, 1 TD and yes… 5 interceptions.
So the state of Ram football continues to deteriorate while a playoff scenario is still possible for the Titans (yes, you read that correctly). If the Titans win out the rest of their games and a few teams lose a few games, the Titans can make off with a Wildcard slot – an NFL first for a team that started the season 0-6.
The trip to the Wildcard game starts with a victory over a visiting 7-6 Miami Dolphins team.
Vince Young was playing possible the best game of his career before retiring to the sidelines with what is being called a mild strain to his hamstring. Young hurt his leg on a 44-yard scamper – the longest run of his NFL career late in the 2nd Qtr and was replaced by veteran Kerry Collins. Prior to exiting the game, VY had completed 5 of 6 passes for 132 yards and 1 TD (a short screen pass to Chris Johnson who dashed 66 yards to paydirt). Young had passed for a perfect QB Rating in the first Qtr. (158.3 rating).
NFL-leading rusher Chris Johnson still has 2000 yards on his rushing radar. Johnson compiled 117 yards and 2 TDs on 28 carries while adding 69 yards and a TD with 3 receptions. CJ seems to break a franchise record every time he suits up these days. This week, he became the fifth player in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards from scrimmage in his team’s first 13 games (Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson, Walter Payton and Priest Holmes having accomplished that feat. CJ also broke Earl Campbell’s single season ‘yards from scrimmage’ franchise record of 1,981 yards with 2016 yards. He also passed Campbell’s franchise record of 7 consecutive 100-yard rushing games as Johnson now has 8 in a row.
With 1,626 yards on the ground, he needs just 374 to surpass the 2000 yard mark and 480 to break Eric Dickerson’s all-time single season rushing record of 2105 yards set in 1984.
Overall, the Titans played a great game on both sides of the ball compiling 446 yards of total offense while limiting the visitors to just 240. If the Titans maintain this pace (and with a little help from other teams), this once 0-6 squad may find themselves in the history books.
What did we learn from this game?
Things can be a lot worse!