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Goal-line stand preserves sloppy win

11/17/2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Titans' record-setting
scoring surge is over. Thanks to their defense, their winning
streak is intact.

Question on the Jags: How much of a short and long-term impact do you expect Kevin Johnson to have?
In the short-term, Johnson should further QB Byron Leftwich's development this season. The Jags are hoping Johnson and fellow receiver Jimmy Smith will be able to give Leftwich the type of long-term receiving pair that will fuel the team's future success.

Question on the Titans: Did it appear to you that the Titans took Jacksonville too lightly?
No. The Titans ran up against a team that has very good offensive personnel and that wanted this victory badly. It was very impressive for the Titans to avoid an upset this week against a team that was poised to pull one off.

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

The Titans snapped their string of games with 30 or more points
at six, but Steve McNair threw for a touchdown and the defense held
off the Jaguars at the goal line in the final minute to preserve a
10-3 victory, their fifth straight.

"The offense has been carrying us the last few weeks, and we
needed a game like this today for the defense to rise up and really
show how good we can be or how good we are," Titans safety Lance
Schulters said. "We showed up to play today and made the plays
when they counted."

Jacksonville (2-8) had first-and-goal needing to score to force
overtime, but the Titans stopped Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala twice up
the middle for losses. Scott McGarrahan tackled Cortez Hankton at
the 2 after an 8-yard catch, then Byron Leftwich couldn't find a
receiver in the end zone on fourth-and-2.

The Titans (8-2) then ran out the final 45 seconds for their
10th victory in 12 games in this series.

"This is kind of the old way, right down to the end," Titans
coach Jeff Fisher said. "The important thing is we won."

Tennessee never came close to the standard it set in becoming
only the third team since 1970 to top 30 points in six consecutive
games. Jacksonville outgained Tennessee 271-246, came up with three
turnovers and also sacked McNair twice -- its first sacks since Oct.
12. Hugh Douglas, who had his only sack of the season in the
opener, had 1{ and also forced a fumble.

"We happen to have two of the better teams in the league in our
division, and we went toe to toe with them," Jaguars coach Jack
Del Rio said of his team, which beat Indianapolis last week.

"I don't see any reason to think that we don't belong in that
category. But they earned the right to be where they are, and we
have not yet. But we are building something here."

But the Jaguars couldn't convert those turnovers into points
against a Tennessee defense that lost end Jevon Kearse, the AFC's
co-leader with 9{ sacks, to a sprained left ankle in the first
quarter.

Tennessee intercepted Leftwich twice, including just before
halftime when Samari Rolle picked off a pass at the Tennessee 17.
He ran it back 52 yards.

Typical of the Titans' struggles, rookie Tyrone Calico dropped a
pass from McNair in the end zone on the very next play. Douglas
sacked McNair four plays later and stripped the ball.

"The mark of a good team is when you go out and you play as
sloppy as we did offensively, and you still come out with a
victory," McNair said. "The credit goes to the defense."

It was a game that didn't come close to the feuding the past
week over late hits and dirty play following the teams' last
meeting, a 30-17 Tennessee victory.

The Jaguars were seeking a second consecutive win for the first
time this season. But they remained winless on the road. Fred
Taylor, who had a season-high 152 yards rushing against the Colts,
ran 14 times for 65 yards. He called the Titans, with the NFL's
stingiest run defense, overrated.

"They've been jumping out on a couple teams, and teams have to
stop running. ... Statistically, they are. But I didn't see it,"
Taylor said.

The Titans had outscored opponents 72-12 in the first period
this season, but they never really got into rhythm. Their first
play ended in a giveaway when Rashean Mathis intercepted a pass
from McNair, the NFL's top-rated passer, in the end zone.

Gary Anderson kicked a 33-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead the
Titans never lost, then they finally put together a drive. McNair
capped the nine-play series with a 5-yard toss to Justin McCareins
that first bounced off his left hand, then his chest before he
finally pulled it in while on his back with Jaguars cornerback
Fernando Bryant grabbing at his arms.

Game notes
The Titans extended their NFL-best streak to 26 straight
home games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. ... Leftwich
finished without a touchdown for the first time in nine games. He
had been tied with Oliver Luck with at least one TD passing or
rushing in his first eight games. ... Tennessee now has won 10
straight at home. ... Titans kicker Joe Nedney, on injured reserve
after tearing an ACL in his non-kicking leg, retrieved the tee
after Tennessee's second kickoff. ... Taylor hurt his left knee in
the third quarter. He had only one carry in the fourth quarter. ...
The Titans got one sack to extend their streak to 18 straight games
with at least one sack.