NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- To Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, giving
his battered defense a chance to clinch the Titans' victory was
He declined a holding penalty that forced Detroit to
fourth-and-3, and safety Donnie Nickey knocked down a pass intended
for Roy Williams to preserve the Titans' 24-19 victory over the
Lions on Sunday. Tennessee snapped its five-game losing streak.
Fisher said refusing the holding penalty on Lions tackle Stockar
McDougle was a dicey decision. His defense had given up 31 points
in each game of the past five losses, and Detroit had a timeout and
50 seconds left on the clock.
"I was on the phones, and I said, `Third-and-13 or
fourth-and-3?' It got real quiet. You have to give your defense a
chance to make a play to win the game. I'd rather have it come down
to one play," Fisher said.
Detroit pulled to 24-19 following a 17-yard TD pass from Joey
Harrington to Williams with 4:06 left. Tennessee challenged the
call, but the referee upheld the score, saying the ball came out
after Williams crossed the goal line.
The Lions got the ball back and drove to the Tennessee 16. But
Nickey broke up a pass intended for Williams with 45 seconds left
to preserve the victory and improve the Titans to 2-6 at home.
"It was about time," Titans cornerback Andre Dyson said.
"It's been a while since we've felt that. To do it at home makes
it a little bit more sweeter."
Volek threw for 175 yards and a touchdown before being knocked
out in the fourth quarter. The Titans (5-11) were without 14
players from their opening day roster because of injuries, but they
had more than enough to handle Detroit (6-10) and pick up their
first victory since Nov. 21.
"We won our first game and won our last," said Volek, who may
need surgery. "But it was pretty ugly in between."
Detroit dominated the game offensively, holding the ball for
nearly 33 minutes and outgaining the Titans 434-312.
But a Tennessee defense that had given up at least 31 points a
game in its losing skid sacked Harrington twice and forced Detroit
into two turnovers.
"We've got to find a way to win the close games whether it's
one more play on defense or one more big catch or big tackle,
whatever that is," Detroit coach Steve Mariucci said.
Antowain Smith also ran for a 2-yard touchdown and 89 yards for
The Titans had a hint it might be their day on their second play
from scrimmage. Lions tackle Dan Wilkinson batted down a pass back
to Volek, who tapped it over to Smith for a completion, a 5-yard
gain and a first down.
The Titans led 14-10 at halftime even though Detroit had the
ball for more than 18 minutes and held the Titans to only 19 yards
in the first quarter.
Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck, miffed at being passed over for
the Pro Bowl, put Tennessee up 7-0 when he sacked Harrington and
knocked the ball loose before picking it up and running 39 yards
for a touchdown in the first quarter.
"Keith has played way above his head all year," Fisher said.
"Because of the injuries and so forth, we've asked him to do so
much and he really had a great year."
Jason Hanson had a chance to redeem a missed field goal on
fourth-and-3 when Titans lineman Kevin Carter was flagged for being
offside. Hanson then converted a 26-yarder four plays later, making
it 7-3. Harrington put Detroit up 10-7 with a 21-yard touchdown
toss to Cory Schlesinger at the end of a 75-play drive in the
Tennessee finally put together its best drive just before
halftime, going 90 yards in 11 plays when Volek found Drew Bennett
down the left sideline for a 32-yard TD.
Bulluck's sack was his fifth this season, a career
high. His TD also was the fourth of his career. ... Bennett's
32-yard TD gave him 11 for the season, most in franchise history
since the 1970 merger. Ernest Givens had 10 in 1992 and Drew Hill
had 10 in 1988. ... Titans CB Andre Dyson intercepted a pass in the
fourth quarter, giving him a career-high six this season. ... Lions
WR Roy Williams set a franchise rookie record with 54 receptions
for the season.
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