The Baltimore Ravens upset the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Saturday on a 43-yard field goal by Matt Stover with only 53 seconds left in the game. The Ravens are poised to return to that 2000 NFL Championship form in a similar fashion – wild card team with a dominant defense, winning 3 playoff games on the road to advance to the Super Bowl. We’ll see if the Ravens can repeat that magic.
The Ravens forced 3 Titans turnovers which negated good statistical games from the Titans offense. Kerry Collins completed 26 of 42 passes for 281 yards. But Collins threw a costly interception in the red zone and did not have a touchdown pass. Chris Johnson had a good start to the divisional playoff game but was forced to leave in the 2nd quarter with a right ankle injury. Johnson scored the Titans only touchdown of the game on an 8-yard run on the game’s opening drive, and rushed for a total of 72 yards on 11 carries. In reserve, LenDale White rushed for 45 yards on 15 carries, but had a turnover that cost the Titans a chance to score in raven’s territory. Alge Crumpler also had a fumble for the Titans.
Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense did just enough to get the victory. Flacco helped the Titans tie the game at 7 on a 48-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason. Flacco completed only half of his passes (11 for 22) for 161 yards, good for a 89.4 passer rating. Flacco is the only rookie quarterback to lead his team to 2 NFL playoff game victories. The Ravens also only had 50 rushing yards, but that was enough to help set up 2 field goals by Matt Stover in the 4th quarter. Stover connected from 21 yards out in the early part of the 4th quarter to give the Ravens a 10-7 lead. After the Titans tied the game at 10 on a Rob Bironas 27-yard field goal with 4:23 left in the game, Flacco orchestrated the drive that set up Stover’s 43-yard game-winning field goal.
Now it’s off to Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Although the Steelers defeated the Ravens in both regular season meetings (by a combined 7 points), the Ravens held their own in both contests and match up well against the physical Steelers. It should be a fun, grind it out football game. Are you ready for some smash-mouth football?!
The Tennessee Titans defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-14 on Sunday to clinch the best record in the AFC. The Titans will have home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The Titans had a balanced attack against a stingy Steelers defense. Kerry Collins was efficient – 20 for 29 for 216 yards, 1 touchdown and no interceptions. Chris Johnson rushed for 69 yards and 1 touchdown, while LenDale White rushed for 48 yards and 1 touchdown. Justin Gage led the Titans in receiving with 5 catches for 104 yards and a score. Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 26 of 40 passes for 331 yards and he threw 2 touchdown passes. “Gentle Ben” also threw 2 costly interceptions, however, including an interception that was returned by the Titans Michael Griffin 83 yards for a touchdown that sealed the victory for the Titans with only 18 seconds remaining. The Titans will presumably rest some key players next week in order to gear up, and stay healthy, for the all-important playoff run.
In a surprise upset, the Atlanta Falcons hung on for a 24-17 win over the Vikings in Minnesota. The Vikings could have clinched a 1st place finish in the NFC North and a playoff berth. The Vikings loss opens the door for the Chicago Bears. With a win over the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football tomorrow night, the Bears would move into a tie with the Vikings atop the NFC North. The Vikings would need to win at home next week against the New York Giants in order to secure the division win (they hold the tie-breaker against the Bears), but if the Vikings were to lose and the Bears were to defeat the Texans in Houston, the Bears would be crowned the NFC North kings. Stay tuned for 3 exciting games left to determine the NFC North winner.
The New York Jets sent a message loud and clear to the rest of the NFL on Sunday. With their 34-13 drubbing of the previously unbeaten Titans in Tennessee, the Jets proved that they are a team and a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season. Could we be setting the stage for an all-New York Super Bowl in Miami with the Giants defending their title against the Jets?
After starting off the NFL season with a 1-2 record, the Jets have won 7 of their last 8 games and are on a current 5-game winning streak. Facing the NFL’s best scoring defense, the Jets decided to try a new strategy against the Titans – they spread out the field and had Favre throw, throw, throw in an attempt to wear down the Tennessee defense. The game plan worked. The Jets dominated time of possession – controlling the clock for more than 40 minutes. Favre threw 32 passes and completed 25 of them. He threw 2 touchdowns passes and had only 1 interception, good for a 103.6 passer rating. The Jets also had 192 net rushing yards – 96 from Thomas Jones and 82 from Leon Washington. Washington busted the game open in the 4th quarter with a 61-yard touchdown explosion that gave the Jets a 27-6 lead, and another 4-yard touchdown run that pushed the lead back up to 21 points right before the 2-minute warning.
For the Titans, Chris Johnson carried the ball only 10 times for 46 yards. The Titans rushing attack has really fizzled of late. Quarterback Kerry Collins completed 21 of 39 passes for 243 yards. He had 1 touchdown pass and no interceptions, but the team never really got into a good offensive rhythm for any consistent period of time.
The Titans are still in great position to maintain home field advantage through the AFC Championship Game. They are 10-1 and have a 2 game lead over the Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers with only 5 games to play. The next 3 contests should be wins for the Titans – at Detroit, home against the Browns and at Houston. They finish with the Steelers at home and then on the road at Indianapolis during the final week of the NFL season.
At 8-3, the Jets have also put themselves in great position with 5 games to play. With a favorable schedule – 3 home games against the Broncos, Bills and Dolphins and 2 road games against the 49ers and Seahawks – it would not be inconceivable to see the Jets win all 5 games. If they do that, and the Titans stumble against the Steelers and Colts, the 2 would be tied for the best record in the AFC and the Jets would get home field advantage because of the head-to-head win.
It will definitely be a fun and wild ride the rest of the way…
The Tennessee Titans defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-14 to move to 10-0 on the 2008 NFL season. For the 2nd year in a row, the NFL has had a team reach the 10-0 mark (the New England Patriots completed the regular season undefeated last year and went to 18-0 through the AFC playoffs before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl). The Titans trailed 14-3 at halftime in Jacksonville and never really seemed “in sync” during the game’s first 30 minutes. The Jags’ Maurice Jones-Drew had paced the rushing attack for Jacksonville with 2 touchdown runs in the 2nd quarter.
However, the Titans came out blazing in the 3rd quarter. Quarterback Kerry Collins connected with Brandon Jones on a 13-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 14-10. The Titans took the lead for good on another Kerry Collins TD pass – this time a 56-yarder to Justin Gage. The Titans put the game on another Collins to Gage 38-yard touchdown pass in the 4th quarter, giving the Titans a 24-14 edge that would stay the final score. Collins had a mediocre completiong percentage of 13 for 23, but he did throw for 230 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Titans defense shut down the Jags offense in the 2nd half. The Jags did not score in the game’s final 30 minutes and Jags’ Quarterback David Garrard finished the day 13 of 30 passing with 1 interception.
The Titans need 6 more wins to match the Patriots undefeated 2007 season record. Will they do it? Stay tuned…
The Tennessee Titans defeated the Chicago Bears 21-14 at Soldier Field on the Chicago lakefront. The Titans increased their record to 9-0 and remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL. The Bears scored the 1st and final touchdowns of the game – the problem was, they didn’t score any other points in between. Rex Grossman, starting in place of the injured Kyle Orton, had a mediocre game against one of the NFL’s best defenses. He completed 20 of 37 passes for 173 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and one interception and also scored a rushing touchdown. Bears Running Back Matt Forte had a spectacular game – 20 rushes for 72 yards and 7 receptions for 54 yards including a 5-yard pass from Grossman for the game’s 1st touchdown.
The Bears defense kept the NFL’s best rushing attack in check throughout the game. LenDale White had only 14 yards rushing, but did score the game winning touchdown in the 4th quarter. Chris Johnson had only 7 yards rushing and was held out of the end zone. The Bears’ focus on the run allowed Titans’ Quarterback Kerry Collins to have his best passing game of the season. Collins completed 30 of 41 passes for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns. He did not throw an interception.
The Bears fell to 5-4 and are in a 1st place tie with the Minnesota Vikings, who defeated the Green Bay Packers 28-27. The Bears travel to Lambeau Field on Sunday to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a must-win game for the Bears.
The Tennessee Titans remained unbeaten on the season at 8-0 with a 19-16 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers. Rod Bironas’ 41-yard field goal in overtime was the difference. The game was a defensive battle through and through. Each team scored only 1 touchdown (the Titans on a 3-yard run by Chris Johnson and the Packers on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Donald Driver). Bironas kicked 4 field goals for the Titans, while Mason Crosby kicked 3 field goals for the Packers. The Titans still sit atop the AFC South with a 4-game lead over the Indianapolis Colts (who defeated the New England Patriots 18-15). The Packers are tied for 2nd in the NFC North with the Minnesota Vikings, and are 1 game behind the Detroit Lions who defeated the Detroit Lions 27-23 at Soldier Field.
The New York Giants kept pace with the Titans with a convincing 35-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Giants Stadium. The Giants opened up a 21-7 halftime lead and ended up cruising to a 21-point win. Giants Quarterback Eli Manning threw for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward each had rushing touchdowns in the 2nd half to preserve the win. The Giants defense was outstanding once again with 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery and 4 sacks. The Giants stand atop the NFC East with a 7-1 record. They have a 1 game lead over the Washington Redskins who play on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cowboys fell to 5-4 and are in the last place in the NFC East.