<
>

Titans make it eight of nine, tie for top AFC record

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Steve McNair didn't need to practice to beat the defending Super Bowl champions.

He didn't need to throw the ball, either.

After a third consecutive week without a full practice, McNair
ran for two touchdowns as Tennessee beat the New England Patriots
24-7 Monday night and pulled into a tie for the best record in the
AFC.

"I had to use my legs a little more than I anticipated
tonight,'' said McNair, who ran for 49 yards and threw for 136
despite his sore ribs. "But I do whatever it takes ... and suffer
the consequences later.''

Eddie George ran for 101 yards, Robert Holcombe had 85 and Jevon
Kearse made an emotional return for the Titans (9-5), who had the
ball for 41:30 of the game's 60 minutes. Holcombe also forced and
recovered a fumble to turn an interception by the Patriots (8-6)
into a first down and help set up McNair's second TD.

"They outplayed us, they outcoached us. It's as simple as
that,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "They played a better
football game than us.''

McNair was injured in a Nov. 24 loss to Baltimore and has taken
part in just one drill since -- a 7-on-7 session on Friday. But
Tennessee has won three straight games in spite of it, and eight of
nine.

"What more can you say?'' Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "He
gets it done again without practicing.''

With the streak, the Titans have overcome a 1-4 start and moved
into a first-place tie in the AFC South; they hold the tie-breaking
edge over Indianapolis. Tennessee also moved into a four-way tie in
the race for home-field advantage in the conference playoffs, with
games left against Jacksonville and Houston.

"We've got two games left to prove it to everybody,'' Titans
receiver Derrick Mason said. "If they don't believe it now, we'll
go straight to the playoffs and smash everybody. Hopefully, they'll
realize it then.''

New England dropped into second place in the AFC East, a game
behind Miami. The Patriots, who had won three in a row and five of
six, could still win the division with victories over the New York
Jets next week and the Dolphins in the season finale.

It was the Patriots' worst game of the year in yardage (176) and
points.

"It was embarrassing,'' tight end Christian Fauria said. "When
it's this bad, it's easy to forget. This is probably the worst loss
for me, the way I feel, all year.''

Tom Brady went 14-for-29 for 134 yards and ran for a touchdown,
scoring from 10 yards out on a quick-snap sneak and running through
the wide open middle to make it 14-7 early in the third quarter. It
was Brady's second career rushing touchdown, and his first in the
regular season.

But Brady also threw an interception that deflected off David
Patten. Safety Rich Coady waited for it to come down, then ran 24
yards to the end zone to give the Titans a 21-7 lead.

McNair was 11-of-24 for 136 yards and an interception that
didn't hurt him, because Holcombe stripped the ball from Terrell
Buckley on the return and fell on it to give the Titans a first
down.

Instead of the Patriots having the ball at the Tennessee 42 with
a chance to tie the game early, the Titans drove to the 1 before
McNair punched it over to make it 14-0.

McNair gave Tennessee a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter
when he scrambled out of a collapsing pocket up the middle,
slipping out of one tackle before he was crunched -- too late -- by
two Patriots at the goal line.

Kearse hadn't played since breaking his left foot on the second
play of the season opener. Before the game, the Titans introduced
the defensive starters to give the fans a chance to applaud the
"Freak,'' and he took advantage of the opportunity to ham it up.

Limping out of the tunnel, he took off his helmet and dropped to
his knees to soak up the cheers, thrusting his hands up in the air.
With that, he got back up and ran full-speed through the row of
teammates as they welcomed him back.

He played only on passing situations.

Game notes
It was George's third 100-yard game of the season. He's the
sixth back to surpass 100 against New England this season. ...
McNair has run for two TDs in a game six times in his career. ...
Brady's strangest pass of the night came late in the third quarter
when he knocked the hat off umpire Brian Baillet on a
second-and-11. ... The Titans had to wait through two reviews of
plays at the goal line to score just before halftime. Holcombe ran
wide right and nearly scored. But officials ruled that the ball --
in his right arm -- never crossed the plane of the goal. McNair
scored on the next play, and his TD was upheld after review that he
had the ball across the plane. ... The Patriots did not score on
their opening drive for the first time in five games. ... Patriots
cornerback Otis Smith hurt his arm in the fourth quarter. ... Troy
Brown of New England had eight catches for 73 yards.

ESPN Fan Shop Powered By

  • Nike Boys' Home Game Jersey New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski #87Shop

  • Antigua Men's Tennessee Titans Pique Xtra-Lite Navy PoloPrice: $39.99 Shop

NFL News