Sunday, September 26, 2010
Jersey guys help Titans beat Giants
By Matt Ehalt
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kenny Britt and Jason McCourty didn't spend much time reminiscing about their playing days at nearby Rutgers University before Sunday's contest against the New York Giants. Instead, the pair of second-year players on the Tennessee Titans had to figure out how many family and friends would be in attendance.
"We talked about the amount of tickets we had to get," McCourty said. "Other than that, we laughed about the opportunity to come home and playing not too far from Rutgers and not too far from where we grew up. We kind of just laughed about it and looked forward and were just excited."
Britt said he had only two tickets, including one for his mother. McCourty allocated about 10 tickets. No matter the number, though, both gave their respective parties something to smile about during Sunday's game.
The former Scarlet Knights, who both attended high school in New Jersey, helped the Titans defeat the Giants 29-10 on Sunday afternoon at the new Meadowlands stadium. Britt hauled in his first touchdown pass of the season, while McCourty recorded the first interception of his career.
"Playing back home is a lot of fun," McCourty said. "Just the atmosphere, you go out there and just to know this is kind of where you started. I grew up probably 30 minutes from here, so to have the opportunity to play in front of family and friends and then just being back here is a great feeling."
The Titans selected both players in the 2009 draft, and this was their second time playing in New Jersey, as the Titans had a road game against the Jets last season at Giants Stadium. Tennessee drafted Britt 30th overall in the 2009 draft, while McCourty was the team's sixth-round pick.
McCourty's big play could have been a game-changer. Tennessee led 3-0 in the first quarter and the Giants faced third-and-goal at the Titans' 2-yard line. Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a righty, tried to throw a left-handed pass to Kevin Boss, but Boss and Titans linebacker Will Witherspoon tipped the ball in the air, and McCourty made a diving interception.
McCourty, who attended St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J., later left the game in the second quarter with a slight right forearm fracture. He had the arm wrapped up and in a plastic bag afterward, and said he did not know how much time he will miss. Still, the interception gave him a great memory from what could be a costly game for the Giants.
"It was great to be able to get that first one in the NFL," McCourty said of his interception. "I'm just happy it was able to come back home, it adds a little extra for it, but just a little upset not being able to finish the game. But [I can] definitely take that away from the game as a positive."
For Britt, in addition to his homecoming, this game was a showcase of what could have been. The Giants drafted one spot ahead of the Titans in the 2009 draft, and instead of taking Britt, they chose to draft University of North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
While Nicks finished with more yardage and catches Sunday, Britt was able to score the all-important touchdown. With the Titans leading 12-10 early in the third quarter, Britt made a tremendous catch over Giants cornerback Corey Webster in the back of the end zone to give the Titans a 19-10 lead. Britt finished the game with two catches for 26 yards.
"It's like a dream come true because I live five minutes down the road and I've been seeing the Giants play for over 21 years of my life," Britt said of playing at the new Meadowlands stadium. "Just coming back and playing in the stadium, especially their new stadium that they got down here, it's a beautiful stadium, I got friends and family here so it was great."
Lying on top of Britt's locker after the game was a black hat with a white cursive inscription that read "Jersey." He bought the hat at a sneaker store in Jersey City.
"I wear [the hat] almost everywhere I go especially in Nashville," Britt said. "Let them know where I'm from."
Sunday, Britt and McCourty reminded the Giants of that.
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.