Concussion dampens Rolle's day

Titans CB Samari Rolle struggled at times against Plaxico Burress, but made one of the game's biggest plays.

Updated: September 29, 2003, 9:42 AM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Titans cornerback Samari Rolle knows everytime he faces Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress, it's going to be a long day.

Rolle is just lucky he remembered it. Burress is the Steelers 6-foot-5, 226 pound go-to receiver. Rolle is 6-0, 175. During Sunday's 30-13 Titans blowout of the Steelers, Rolle, a Pro Bowler, got the best of Burress.

Samari Rolle
Rolle
Though Burress caught four passes for 64 yards, he didn't get in the end zone. Rolle intercepted a pass intended for Burress and returned it to the 1-yard line to set up a touchdown.

As much as Rolle wanted to celebrate his victory, it was hard. Late in the game, safety Lance Schulters crashed into Burress and Rolle. Burress was shaken up. Rolle suffered a mild concussion.

"That play right there showed you what kind of game it was," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.

The best part of watching Rolle go against Burress is the battle on each play. Because he's five inches shorter and 51 pounds lighter, Rolle has to hold Burress. Three times during Sunday's game, Rolle was flagged for interference or holding.

"Samari rises to the occasion against Plaxico," Schulters said. "Me personally, I think Plaxico flops and whines to draw penalties, but they are the home team so they got the advantage. But I'm sure, he doesn't want to see Samari every time. I think he dreads that coverage."

Rolle's second-quarter interception allowed the Titans to take the lead, 16-13, after Steve McNair hit Erron Kinney with a 1-yard touchdown.

Samari rises to the occasion against Plaxico. Me personally, I think Plaxico flops and whines to draw penalties, but they are the home team so they got the advantage. But I'm sure, he doesn't want to see Samari every time.
S Lance Schulters

"I thought Plaxico was going to get inside of Samari," Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox said. "Obviously, looking back, I wish it was a throw I had not made. In that situation, if we had a couple of completions, we could have been at least in field goal range."

Perhaps the most important part of Sunday's victory is how Rolle was able to prevent Burress from getting the ball in the red zone. One of the Steelers favorite scoring plays is using Burress' height to overmatch opposing cornerbacks in the end zone.

Because the Steelers couldn't produce touchdowns and had to settle for field goal attempts, they were never able to break open the game.

"I am not going to go into that," Cowher said of Burress' opportunities near the goal line. "We will sit back and assess all things we are doing. But we need to be more effective there."

Though his head ached, Rolle tried to enjoy his successful day in the locker room afterwards.

"Playing against Plaxico brings out the best in me," Rolle said. "I just wish I would have gotten that extra yard for a touchdown."

Schulters joked that he will make Rolle watch tapes of Rocky Boiman's 60-yard interception return to illustrate what is needed to get that extra yard.

With three victories in two years against the Steelers, the Titans have the Steelers number.

"I think this series against Pittsburgh is the best thing going in the league right now," Schulters said. "We got the upper hand winning these three games."

Rolle wasn't going to argue, particularly against a teammate who accidentally gave him the slight concussion.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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