Monday Morning QB: Titans @ Niners Grades
By Jeff Fuqua
Nov 9, 2009 - 7:37:24 AM
The Tennessee Titans made it two in-a-row Sunday with a strong showing in San Francisco. The defense, which was close to being dead last in the league in a number of statistics, regained a bit of their lost swagger and Chris Johnson had another amazing game. Confidence and intensity looks to be back to where it was a season ago and Lady Luck is beginning to smile upon the men in two-toned blue. "I don't know what the difference is. I really can't explain it other
than now we are finding ways to win," C Kevin Mawae said. "We are
not doing anything different game-plan wise, we are just making plays
when we have to."
Let's look at the Titans 34-27 win over the 49ers and grade the team by position.
It was another solid performance as Vince Young looked decisive and confident while passing for 172 yards and a 92.4 passer rating. He used his legs when needed including a nice seven-yard QB draw for a TD. His 49-yard bomb to Justin Gage was a thing of beauty. Young did miss a few short passes early but has avoided throwing an INT since returning as the Titans #1.
Chris Johnson put up 135 yards and would have had another 40 had the refs not called him out-of-bounds on a huge run. He had another 25 yards on three receptions to go with his two TDs. CJ now leads the league in rushing with 959 yards which means he could join an elite few with a 2,000 yard rushing season. Passing may not be his strongest area as he struggled to grip the ball on a halfback pass. LenDale White wasn't effective with his limited opportunities and won't see much work unless the Titans are protecting a lead. Ahmard Hall did a nice job clearing the way on CJ's long run.
Bo Scaife had only two receptions for 20 yards but the TEs were a key reason CJ had room to run Sunday.
Justin Gage woke up and had his best game (97 receiving yards) of the season being on the receiving end of a 49-yard pass and making a circus catch with an amazing leap and hanging onto the football. Nate Washington added another 30 yards receiving and rookie Kenny Britt was shut out on the day.
Leroy Harris stepped in for an injured David Stewart and had a solid game. Besides some early difficulties in slowing Aubrayo Franklin, the OL did a nice job getting a push. Young was only sacked once and often had plenty of time in the pocket to take a deep shot. Penalties were also kept to a minimum.
Besides the penalties, the DL had another good outing getting pressure on Alex Smith throughout the game. William Hayes forced a fumble to go with his 1.5 sacks and two QB hurries. Jason Jones slapped down a pass. Both Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jovan Haye added a QB hurry to the mix. There were times the Niners were able to get Frank Gore going (83 yards, 1 TD) but kept the damage to a minimum.
Gerald McRath stepped in for David Thornton and did an outstanding job recording six tackles. Stephen Tulloch led the defense with 10 tackles and Keith Bulluck had seven. Vernon Davis hurt the Titans defense early but limited him in the second half.
This unit combined for three INTs including a Cortland Finnegan TD to put the game away. Chris Hope had a sack to go with his diving INT. Rod Hood got his second pick in as many weeks. Vincent Fuller broke up the pass which led to the Finnegan INT. Michael Griffin also broke up a pass which led to Hood's pick.
Alvin Pearman caught the ball well in his return opportunities but didn't do a lot with it afterwards. McRath fielded an onside kick and P Brett Kern had a mixed day but did have a boomer early and averaged 44.0 yards net.
OC Mike Heimerdinger opened up the playbook as we saw the option play and a halfback pass. DC Chuck Cecil was aggressive and it paid off. Talk of this being Jeff Fisher's last season should be quieted as the Titans look like another team since the bye week.
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