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Thursday, November 21, 2013
How to score on the Titans? On the ground

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When it comes to touchdowns, it doesn’t particularly matter how they are allowed. So the Tennessee Titans aren’t especially proud that they’ve allowed a league-low seven passing touchdowns this season, less than half the NFL average.

That’s because the good number is offset by having allowed 15 rushing touchdowns, which ties them with Jacksonville and Washington for the most. The NFL average is 7.8.

Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner is tied for the league lead with five interceptions. He’s been a big part of improved coverage that has helped the Titans move from the league’s worst scoring defense in 2012 to 13th in the league this season. He doesn’t differentiate touchdowns.

“It doesn’t matter, a touchdown is a touchdown,” he said. “We pride ourself on not giving up touchdowns. I guess [giving up the fewest passing touchdowns] is a nice little stat, but I wouldn’t have even have known unless you told me. Our whole goal is to keep people out of the end zone.”

Red-zone defense has fallen off in a big way, with 11 touchdowns on the last 13 trips by opponents inside the Titans’ 20-yard line. After Week 6 the Titans were tied for 15th in the NFL (at 55.6 percent). Now they are tied for 29th (at 66.7 percent).

An improvement there is a major point of emphasis heading to Oakland. The Raiders have a pretty effective red-zone offense, with touchdowns on 57.7 percent of their trips inside the 20.

The 2000 Titans hold the franchise record for fewest passing touchdowns allowed over 16 games, with 10. It also allowed just seven rushing touchdowns.