Week 5: Throwback Titans don't fit league model; Bengals paying for mistakes
James Lang/US Presswire
Week 5 analysis: Titans, Ravens bucking trends
By John Clayton, ESPN.comBALTIMORE -- Park Avenue, the New York home of the NFL offices, doesn't buy into the styles of the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans. The NFL loves scoring because scoring excites fans. It is baseball's equivalent to the long ball, and you know chicks dig the long ball. In the league's eyes, there is nothing better than a three-hour, 30-28 thriller filled with long passes and big plays. Steelers-Ravens and Ravens-Titans isn't marquee in NFL eyes. "We aren't what the league wants,'' Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said of his defensive-minded Titans. "Defense is a mentality. We are trying to come out and stop the offense from scoring, so we know a lot of calls are going to go their way. There are a handful of teams around the league that play great defense and we hope to be one of them.''
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Keith Bulluck (game-high 13 tackles) spearheaded another stellar defensive effort by the Titans.
The Titans' 13-10 victory over the Ravens was a throwback to the way football used to be. Officials were using their arms more than quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Kerry Collins. Bill Carollo's crew threw 21 flags for 169 yards. Collins had 17 completions for 163; Flacco had 18 for 153. In fact, had Carollo not called this game closely, it might have ended in a scoreless tie. All four scoring drives were aided by penalties that favored the offense.Coming into Sunday's action, Park Avenue couldn't have been happier with the scoring trends of the league. The NFL's 45.2-points-a-game average entering Week 5 was the highest-scoring start since 2002 and the second-best since 1979. For the NFL, 2008 is a big score. In a time when shooutouts are the norm, the Titans and Ravens waged an old-fashion grudge match. During the Titans' first defensive series Sunday, Bulluck and Co. knew life was going to be tough. Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch was offsides on the first play. Then Titans safety Chris Hope received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty after mixing it up with a pair of Ravens receivers. The Titans gave up only a field goal. Both defenses played with an intensity rarely seen on the field. Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan got an unnecessary roughness penalty for a sideline hit. As he went back to the huddle, Bulluck stunned him with a two-handed shove to settle him down. Teammates were getting physical with each other. Collins stayed calm through the hard-hitting chaos and rallied the Titans with an 80-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. Flags helped him. A third-down incompletion was negated by a controversial roughing the passer call on Terrell Suggs. What made it so controversial was the play didn't officially exist because left tackle Michael Roos committed a false-start penalty. "[Suggs] got him on the side of the helmet,'' Carollo explained later. "We're blowing the whistle, blowing the whistle. He may not have heard that, but he still can't hit the quarterback on the helmet.'' A 12 men on the field penalty against Baltimore turned a potential third-and-10 into a makeable second-and-5. On third down after an incomplete pass, Collins hit Bo Scaife for 15 yards and then followed with a game-winning, 11-yard touchdown pass to Alge Crumpler. The Titans feel the win in Baltimore is partial revenge for the Ravens' victory over Tennessee in the 2000 playoffs. The Titans were the top seed in the AFC that season but had to watch the Ravens celebrate a Super Bowl victory over the Collins-led Giants. "I think this organization felt [the Ravens] took something from them,'' Bulluck said. "They lost. They can't say much.''
Five things I learned in Week 5
By John Clayton, ESPN.com
Joel Auerbach/US Presswire
Ronnie Brown rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown in Miami's 17-10 victory over San Diego.
John Clayton's game balls
Loose endsWeek 5 Studs & Duds: DeAngelo Williams powered the Panthers past the Chiefs. Texans QB Sage Rosenfels went from hero to zero against the Colts. • Fantasy: The TRUM blog: Bad week for QBs • Experts' picks: How did we do?
Sunday Countdown | ESPN.com • NFL Blog Network
Week 5 rundown• Chicago 34, Detroit 7
Is Bears QB Kyle Orton becoming more than just a game manager? After his first career three-TD performance in Week 4, Orton threw for 334 yards against the Lions. Photos
Miami 17, San Diego 10
As Ronnie Brown goes, so go the Dolphins. Brown rushed for a combined 48 yards in Weeks 1 and 2, and Miami lost both times. Since then, Brown has delivered 113- and 125-yard games and the Dolphins have won two straight. Photos
N.Y. Giants 44, Seattle 6
Are the defending Super Bowl champs the best team in football? We won't know for sure until the second half of the season, when the Giants' schedule gets a lot tougher. Photos
Washington 23, Philadelphia 17
Don't expect the red-hot Redskins to cool off anytime soon. Winners of four straight, Washington's next three opponents are the Rams, Browns and Lions (combined 1-11). Photos
Carolina 34, Kansas City 0
Three first-half touchdowns by DeAngelo Williams (124 rushing yards) got the Panthers rolling. After an impressive performance in Week 4, the Chiefs' offense reverted to its offensive form (127 total yards) Sunday. Photos
Tennessee 13, Baltimore 10
The Ravens and Titans haven't been division rivals since 2001. You wouldn't have known it watching Sunday's game. Tempers flared often as the teams combined for 21 penalties for 159 yards. Photos
Indianapolis 31, Houston 27
How quickly can fortunes change in the NFL? Sage Rosenfels was on the verge of possibly wrestling the Texans' QB job away from Matt Schaub. Then he almost single-handedly (two fumbles and an INT in the final four minutes) cost the Texans what could have been a season-reviving victory. Photos
Denver 16, Tampa Bay 13
Invesco Field was never really a great place for Brian Griese when he was a Bronco. He didn't exactly exorcise any demons Sunday, when he was knocked out of the game by a blitzing Champ Bailey. Photos
The Patriots got some big plays, but their ability to control the clock was the key to victory. New England won the time-of-possession battle 39:52 to 20:08. Photos • Pittsburgh 26, Jacksonville 21
Another week, another nail-biter for the Steelers. Since their blowout victory over Houston in Week 1, the Steelers have won three games by a combined 12 points. Photos • Monday Night Football: Saints at Vikings
(ESPN, 8:30 ET) Vikings, beware. The Saints' Drew Brees could be the NFL's best quarterback. He gets a chance to show the nation Monday. Pat Yasinskas • Football Outsiders: Vikings' dynamic duo at RB
• Play animation: Vikes' counter, Saints' bootleg
• Podcast preview | MNF Surround | Win $1M
Looking aheadAn early look at next weekend's biggest games:
• Carolina (4-1) at Tampa Bay (3-2): Can the Panthers take control of the NFC South? Who will be quarterbacking the Bucs?• Jacksonville (2-3) at Denver (4-1): This matchup has produced many entertaining games over the years. Will Denver's D show up for two straight weeks? • New England (3-1) at San Diego (2-3): Can the struggling Chargers avenge last season's AFC title game loss? • Week 6 schedule