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George gets 100 yards and a score

9/22/2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Titans felt embarrassed
and angry, and they were determined to get off to a better start in
September.

Steve McNair helped them do that in a big way Sunday.

Question on the Saints: Are the Saints underachieving or simply not that good?
Offensively, the Saints are loaded with three good receivers, a great running back and a good quarterback. It's on defense where their problems are manifesting. They have serious secondary problems and they aren't getting a good rush on the passer. Until they get those two situations straightened out, they won't be a good football team.

Question on the Titans: If Steve McNair and Eddie George are both clicking, is this the AFC's best team?
Because of George's mounting carries and age, he really can't be counted on to help lead this team. It's McNair's team and if his receivers can come through, the Titans have a shot at being the best team in the AFC.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

McNair threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns, becoming just the
fifth quarterback in NFL history to notch 20,000 yards passing with
3,000 yards rushing as the Titans beat the New Orleans Saints
27-12.

The Titans, who started 1-4 last season, were upset with
themselves after a 33-7 loss at Indianapolis last week. They
improved to 2-1 with a dominating performance that could have been
even better if they had not stopped themselves.

"Our challenge now is to keep this going," Titans coach Jeff
Fisher said. "We bounced back after a tough week."

They settled for two field goals by Gary Anderson, including
once inside the New Orleans 10, and McNair fumbled on another
possession near the goal line.

But Eddie George had 29 carries for 100 yards and ran for his
first touchdown of the season to seal the victory. The Titans held
the ball for more than 39 minutes, which was more than enough as
the defense had three sacks and held New Orleans (1-2) to 188 yards
total offense.

"We knew what they were going to try to do to us," New Orleans
coach Jim Haslett said. "Again, we didn't execute well enough even
from the time it was 3-0."

The Titans came into the game with an NFL-best streak of 22
straight home games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, and they
improved that to 23 by stopping Deuce McAllister, the NFC's leading
rusher last season with 1,388 yards.

McAllister had only five carries in the first half for minus-9
yards. He finished with 11 carries for 8 yards.

He caught the Titans at a bad time. They had allowed Edgerrin
James to run for 120 yards last week in a loss at Indianapolis, and
they were determined not to let it happen again.

"We take pride stopping the run," Titans linebacker Keith
Bulluck said. "Last week we had a bad game. Everybody decided to
say we couldn't stop the run. That's what we do."

Aaron Brooks had no better luck jumpstarting the Saints, who had
the NFC's highest-scoring offense last year. Against the Titans,
they could only outscore their special teams, which had a safety,
through the first three quarters.

Saints receiver Joe Horn had 17 catches in the first two games
combined but just one for 5 yards against Tennessee. New Orleans
had only 41 offensive plays.

"They took away our primary threat, which is Deuce running the
football," Brooks said. "Deuce had no daylight, no daylight at
all."

McNair, who finished 22-of-33, needed only 171 yards passing to
join Fran Tarkenton, John Elway, Randall Cunningham and Steve Young
as the only quarterbacks with such numbers. But he came into the
game questionable after dislocating his right ring finger last
week.

He showed no signs of pain even with the finger on his throwing
hand heavily taped, and completed 10 of his first 11 passes against
a defense missing five different starters because of injuries. He
guided three different scoring drives using up more than seven
minutes each.

"He hasn't gotten a lot of credit over the years," Fisher said
of his quarterback. "He's made plays and won a lot of games. That
shows you what kind of passer he is."

Said McNair: "We wanted to go out and prove a point."

The Titans started strong as they held New Orleans to just 20
yards in the first quarter, but they led 13-5 at halftime despite
limiting the Saints to minus-5 yards rushing. New Orleans scored
its first points following a miscue by Tennessee.

Keyuo Carver hit Justin McCareins as he caught a punt, and
McCareins fumbled backward toward his own end zone. Tony Beckham
picked up the ball and threw it forward to Lamont Thompson who was
tackled, and the officials flagged the Titans for an illegal
forward pass and a safety, which made it 3-2.

That was as close as the Saints would get because Melvin
Williams fumbled the ball on the ensuing free kick, and Tyrone
Calico recovered for the Titans. McNair drove the Titans 38 yards,
which he capped with a 2-yard TD toss to McCareins.

Game notes
New Orleans finished with 23 yards rushing, the fewest
allowed by the Titans since Nov. 23, 1997, when the then-Tennessee
Oilers held Buffalo to 4 yards rushing. ... TE Frank Wycheck was
deactivated for a second straight week as he recovers from his
second concussion in less than a month.