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Commentary by Joe Biddle: Just another game? Sure.

Was it really just another game when the Tennessee Titans played the St. Louis Rams, or the Midwest Titans as some Rams cynics call them?
 
Jeff Fisher was tight-lipped about the rivalry before the game. The Rams’ roster definitely had a Titans flavor, starting with a number of former Titans assistants now on Fisher’s staff.
 
Add four former Titans players – Cortland Finnegan, William Hayes, Jared Cook and Will Witherspoon and it added some extra spice to the recipe.
 
Fisher and Mike Munchak didn’t exactly swap Halloween candy before or after the game. Neither should expect Christmas cards from the other.
 
Just another game?
 
I’m just curious why Hayes chose to punch a mirror in the Rams’ locker room after the game. Before the media entered the room, Hayes had been sewn up and his arm was bandaged.
Always available for post-game interviews as a Titan, Hayes verbally stiff-armed reporters after the game and escaped the locker room. 
 
Just another game, eh?
 
“If you can get any closer to a Super Bowl without it being a Super Bowl, that’s what it was for me,’’ Finnegan said, after he had littered the field with trash talking, at one point asking running back Chris Johnson to show him how fast he wasn’t.
 
Finnegan is known as a serial trash talker, but he really overextended his personal best against the Titans. Hey, he got the big payday by signing a free agent deal with the Rams. Why not show some love to the organization that originally took a chance on an undersized nobody cornerback from Samford, not Stanford, Samford.
 
Even Fisher ‘fessed up after the game as much as Fisher ever ‘fesses up.
 
“I think this one, at the end of the day, it’s probably going to last a little longer, hurt a little more to them (ex-Titans) because it was important to them.’’
 
Did he mean the game was more important to the ex-players than to him and the ex-Titans assistant coaches?
 
If I was coaching a 3-6 team that has now lost three straight games as the Rams have, I don’t believe I would go there after being beaten 28-21 at home.
 
It appeared the game wasn’t that important to the Rams defense, as it allowed running back Chris Johnson to gash them for 150 yards and two touchdowns after Johnson came into the game averaging 3.2 yards a carry with zero touchdown runs.
 
Unlike the Rams defense, Johnson got stronger as the game went on. In the decisive fourth quarter, Johnson piled up 70 yards on nine carries. That’s a 7.7-yard per carry clip.
 
The Rams defense could not have been proud of its efforts to get the Titans offense off the field on third downs. It allowed the Titans to extend drives at a 58 percent clip, and that was with quarterback Jake Locker having an average game.
 
Whatever the running backs and offensive line discussed in a meeting called by Johnson after last Thursday’s practice apparently lit a fire under their feet.
 
The issue now is building on what they did in St. Louis. At 4-4 at the halfway point, and preseason AFC South favorite Houston having a disappointing first half, the Titans have a chance to make good things happen.
 
They still have three games against Indy and the Texans. The division leading Colts visit LP Field Nov. 14 and the Titans return the favor Dec. 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium. They complete the regular season here against the Texans Dec. 29. 
 
Those games don’t need to be circled on the schedule. It goes without saying.
 
 
Sport Columnist Joe Biddle is a four-time sports writer of the year in Tennessee and a 2013 inductee to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. He can be reached at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

Posted on: 11/7/2013

 
 

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