Titans’ lines key 13-9 win over Raiders

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As Vince Young struggled in his return from injury, the Titans’ offensive and defensive lines put up another dominating performance to lead the team to a 13-9 win over the Raiders. Chris Henry rushed the ball 24 yards for a 3rd quarter score, as LenDale White set a career high in rushing yards for the second week in a row.
The Titans started out sluggish offensively, going 3&out twice, while the Raiders used big plays in the pass game to move the ball down the field and set up Sebastian Janikowski’s first field goal of the game. The Titans had more success on their third drive, with good runs by White and Henry and a 3rd down conversion on a pass to White, but stalled out inside the 20 (again!) and resulted in a 35 yard field goal by Rob Bironas that tied the game at 3. The Titans had a dreadful second quarter, though, as they had nearly as many penalties on offense (three) as plays (four). The big penalty was a marginal offensive pass interference call against Justin Gage that erased a 44 yard gain on 3&21. Thankfully, the Raiders were only able to come away from their two drive with a total of 6 points, as neither drive reached the red zone.
The turning point of the game was the Raiders’ second of the second half. Each team moved the ball a little but not too much on their first second half possession, and the Raiders started their second drive at their own 16. Antwan Odom sacked Culpepper on first down for a loss of 6. Justin Fargas then had a gain of 4, but Barry Sims followed with one of his 4 false starts on the day to set up 3&17. Culpepper had a pass to Curry that appeared to go for a first down, but was negated by an illegal shift. FB Justin Griffith ran the draw on third down and the Raiders punted out of their own end zone. The Titans’ mandatory linebacker punt return penalty (this one by Tulloch) reared its ugly head, and they started from their own 31. A pass to Scaife for 4. Then White for 27. White for 14 more. And, then, Henry burst through the left side of the offensive line and finished his run with a leap into the end zone, smartly keeping the ball inside the pylon (remember that rule change this year?), and the Titans had their first lead of the game.
The fourth quarter naturally featured the Raiders trying to come back, and the Titans not letting them. The Titans’ key second FG came on a play where LaBoy sacked Culpepper on 3&20, forcing a fumble recovered by LaBoy at the Raider 9. The Titans again failed to turn a red zone possession into a TD, but Bironas did hit a 23 yard field goal to force the Raiders to score a TD to avoid the loss. This ended up being key, as the Raiders’ last possession started at their own 47 after the Titans failed to salt the game away offensively after Hope intercepted Culpepper at the 9. Culpepper had a deep pass to Curry to get the Raiders into field goal range, but incompletions on 3&14 and 4&14 from the Titans’ 30 meant the game was over.
So, how’d VY look? How’s 6 of 14 for 42 yard grabs you? Those are his stats for the entire game. Not one drive. Not one quarter. Not one half. One whole game. Oh, and he was also credited with 7 rushes for 11 yards. Yeah. Gage had 2 catches for 19 yards, and a long of 12. Scaife had 2 catches for 12. White had 1 for 8. Roydell had 1 for 3. At least they didn’t turn the ball over. At least the rushing game worked. A little. White had 25 carries for a career-high 133 yards, while Henry had 4 for 48, half of those yards on the TD. White’s numbers seem great, but they’re incredibly deceptive. In the first half, he had 9 carries for 33 yards. In the fourth quarter, when the Titans were trying to preserve their lead, White had 9 carries for 19 yards. It was the third quarter, then, where White was actually good-carries for 8, 6, 21, and 1 (on 2&3) on the first drive, the aforementioned 27 and 14 yard runs on the TD drive, and a final 4 yard run. The hallmark of a good running back is consistent success, and White didn’t have it today, superficially good numbers notwithstanding. Credit to the Titans’ offensive line for opening up some nice holds on the good gains, though.
You may have noticed I didn’t say anything about the Raiders running the ball effectively. That’s because they didn’t. LaMont Jordan had 12 carries for a grand total of 16 yards. Justin Fargas actually did hurt the Titans some, and ended up with a 5.1 ypc average, but, lilke White, lacked consistent success. Culpepper had a nice 3rd down scramble, but that was it. The Raiders did have some occasional success in the passing game, as Culpepper finished with 167 yards, topped by Porter with 4 catches for 46 and Curry with 3 for 45, but they completed fewer than half their passes (15/32) and failed when Kiffin needed them. That failure was in large part because of the pressure the Titans’ defensive line applied almost every play. And, for a change this year, that pressure resulted in QB sacks: 2 by LaBoy, 1 by Odom, 1 by Haynesworth, and 1 by KVB. Two of those forced fumbles, one of which the Titans recovered. It’s tough to complain about that kind of pressure. And yet… when the Raider o-line did hold up, Culpepper was able to find holes in the Titans’ secondary. Subjectively, those holes not infrequently appeared to be located in the general vicinity of Nick Harper. Michael Griffin started his first game at safety, and didn’t seem to make too many errors in pass coverage, though I reserve the right to change my mind on the next viewing.
Rob Bironas continued his FG streak, as he hit on both of his attempts today. Kickoffs weren’t great, but the coverage wasn’t too terrible, either (all Raider drives off KOs started inside own 35). The Raiders didn’t have any particularly long punt returns, and Hentrich wasn’t too bad. The return game, both kickoff and punt, is missing the presence of an explosive player-Chris Davis averaged 6 yards on 4 punt returns, 17 yards of which came on 1 return, and had a kickoff return of 19 yards. Whoopee. Plus, of course, there was that aforementioned requisite linebacker penalty on a punt return. At least there was only one today.
I can kvetch some more, but at the end of the day, the Titans ended up with more points than the Raiders, and that’s what they put in the standings. The record is now 5-2, the best it’s been after 7 games since the team’s last playoff year, 2003. The Titans’ homestand continues next week with what should be another winnable game, this one against the Carolina Panthers, who fell today to the Colts by a 31-7 tally. The calendar is soon to turn to November, and Titan playoff hopes aren’t anywhere close to being on life support. There’s still plenty of football left to be played this year, but things aren’t looking too bad for the Nashville squad so far.

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8 Responses to “Titans’ lines key 13-9 win over Raiders”

  1. jrtitans Says:

    We win again…ugly…but a win. The Titans are starting to look like last years Chicago Bears. #1 rushing defense in the league and no 100 yard rushers allowed for 13 games–very impressive.
    I agree with the post here that LDW was sometimes unimpressive but the numbers are good with under 30 carries for over 100 years rushing. We have that statistic going again we had with Eddie—when LDW rushes for over a 100 yards we are 2-0. Chris Henry looks good again for the 2nd straight week and I hope he gets more playing time.
    I saw no dropoff with Griffin starting but teams are picking on Harper. If Pacman was to be re-instated and inserted in Harpers position–we would have a very fast and dangerous secondary(just a thought).
    I hate the missed pass by Ganther(why was he playing in red zone offense) and the dropped pass by Roydell. I get fashbacks of Drew everytime I see that and will stay on the bandwagon for Biron Ealy to come in and show people how to catch.
    The D-line and Bironas are playing like pro-bowlers. We are tied for 2nd in league with most wins over a 13 game period–and a wiid card berth is looking better all the time but the second half of the schedule is what to worry about–tough challenges and 13 points wont get it.

  2. Alvin Mullins Says:

    I wouldn’t be too hard on the offense since the Raiders are tough on the run and White still had career numbers, he’s getting better, that’s a positive.
    VY should have had much better numbers had the poor offensive interference call not been and he had a couple of TD’s that were dropped.
    All in all, the Titans won the way they always do — in the trenches and as long as that keeps up they will make the playoffs.

  3. NewsToTom Says:

    The Raiders don’t have a good rush defense. They don’t have a non-good rush defense. They have a terrible rush defense. They’re allowing 5.3 yards per carry, worst in the NFL. They’re allowing 149 yards per game, 30th. They’ve allowed 11 runs of 20+ and 4 of 40+, both tied for the worst in the NFL. If you hate basic yardage stats, they’re 32nd in Football Outsiders’ DVOA for rush defense. White is the 5th running back to go over 100 yards against them this year, and Tatum Bell had a season high 87 in one of the other games. In fact, every RB with more than 15 carries against the Raiders this year has gone over 100 yards. The Raiders had a rush defense last year, but they certainly don’t this year.
    I tried to accentuate the positive in the post-the Titans had some nice success running the ball and scored enough points that, combined with a strong defensive effort, let them win the game. But that doesn’t make the Raiders any good.

  4. Dan Says:

    I really like where this running game is going. I bashed lendale so much the past couple of weeks and hes really started to perform. I would like to see more of Chris Henry as jrtittans said. I think that a 70-30 or an 80-20 ratio would be benifitial to both of them and would allow them to be more effective when the other comes out because they are such different types of players. That TD run by henry was ridiculous how he ran passed everyone and leaped into the end zone. But the real question is: What is with VY? All I know is that we cannot continue to win games where he goes 6-14 with 46 yards.

  5. Garland Says:

    Tom, I enjoy your commentaries, but I think you are too hard on Vin-Dale (thought I’d see how that looks in print) this week.
    LenDale had a very good game. The only negative runs I remember were once when a linebacker hit him in the backfield as soon as he received the handoff and one stretch to the left side where a defender got penetration. In the 4th quarter, the Raiders knew the Titans were running to protect the lead, and they were stacked to stop the run. To have success against that would have been awesome, but small gains hardly constitute inconsistency on LenDale’s part. I’ll take that running performance any week.
    So Vince goes 6 of 14 for the day. What does that tell us? Well, at least three of those were drops, and then you have the Gage pass interference call (questionable, as you say). So with those catches being made, Vince is well over 60% passing with a couple of touchdowns. We would be talking about how awesome the running game was and how that allowed the Titans to be selective throwing the ball. Vince protected the ball well and didn’t have many awful throws.
    If you want to question anything, it has to be the play calling. The Titans were running the ball well, so they kept running. I don’t have a problem with that, but if you are concerned about the low number of pass attempts, then you have to run the ball less.
    I didn’t go back and watch the game again, so my memory of what actually happened could be off. The big problem, as I remember it, was the number of dropped passes. You correct those, and I think you have more of the blowout that some were expecting.
    Speaking of dropped passes, did anyone think the pass Troupe missed was overthrown? It didn’t look like it live, but when they showed the view from the endzone camera, it looked like the pass was a bit long. It also didn’t look like Ben made much of an effort to go up and get the ball though. Did I hear something about him losing the ball in the sun?
    Thanks for your analysis, Tom.

  6. NewsToTom Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Garland.
    Unfortunately, I’m in the Chicago area, and the only times I’ll see the Titans play in person will probably be Cincinnati and then at Indy in week 17, which may be almost entirely meaningless to one or both teams. It can be very difficult to judge running lanes from that low side angle the NFL uses (college is generally better), so it’s tough to see just how much more space is available. White, though, looks like a good argument for the fungibility of NFL RBs. Now that he’s mostly fixed the dancing problem I saw earlier in the year, he can generally get you what’s there. Great, but so could Jarrett Payton in ’05 and Danny Ware from what I saw of him in preseason this year, and both of those guys are street free agents. I see plays that distinguish White from those guys maybe 3-5 times a game, and that’s simply not enough for me.
    On the Troupe ball, my first inclination was that Troupe should have made the catch. After watching replays, though, VY’s pass was higher than it should have been, especially given how wide open Ben was. Ben also appears to hesitate after the ball is thrown-trouble spotting it in the sun is a possibility, though he didn’t say so in the post-game interview.

  7. Garland Says:

    Tom, are you seeing the games in HD? I recently got a HD receiver for my laptop, and it’s amazing how much better you can understand the intricacies of the plays with the wider picture (you can actually see what the DBs and WRs are doing most of the time). The picture quality is obviously better too, but the wide screen makes a bigger difference to me. I am definitely going to have to get a new TV before the Titans hit the post-season!
    Sure, LenDale is not yet a guy who keeps defensive coordinators up at night, but I think he’s above average at this point and only going to keep getting better. I really want to see what he can do with a good offseason.

  8. Garo Dykstra Says:

    I pretty much agree spot on with Garland. Not sure how someone can critize LenDale after the last two games. It’s good to see him carrying defenders and wearing down teams like good big backs do. Henry is a beast and Garland is dead on…these two RB’s next year will be scary.
    VY didnt have that bad of a day but you cant rely on looking at his stats. Count the awful drops and Ben Troupe’s pathetic lack of effort…he did what he was suppose to do. No mistakes and he attempted to run more. VY is doing what he needs to do in Fisherball…manage the game, dont make mistakes, make plays when needed. VY tried to put the game away with his arm and the WR’s let him down. It happens.
    I find it odd that people credit Haynesworth just being on the field for Vanden Bosch, Odom, and Laboy’s success because people obviously have to prepare for Albert…but the same concept doesnt apply for VY? We win with VY even when he doesnt play well or when his stats arent good because teams dare us to beat them with something other than VY. Until we get a true #1 WR its just the way it is. Every single team has said there #1 goal to have a chance at beating us was to stop or limit VY. And thats fine…were 5-2 and have yet to have rely on VY to win. Thats a good thing.
    Fantasy football and 20-second highlight shows dont and wont ever get excited about Fisherball or the Titans. And rarely will the QB have great numbers. We run the ball and wear teams down while playing hard nose defense…keep the game close and take over in the 4th. It’s exactly what the Steelers and Ravens did to win superbowls. Not sure I understand why people say “we wont win with VY playing this well.” No, we wont beat the Colts, Patriots or the Cowboys…other than that we can beat anyone with Fisherball and Fisherball gives us the best chance to beat those teams. Were a very good football team that is only going to get better…were just really bad at fantasy football. 🙂

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