Titans' Defense M.I.A. in Texas Shootout

Dave StanleyCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2009

It's a safe bet that nobody saw this coming.  

While neither the Titans' not the  Texans' winning or losing would have been classified as an upset—both have high expectations this season—an old fashioned shootout was the last thing on people's minds as game day approached.

Most had this matchup pegged be a "strength vs. strength" affair; the vaunted Titans' defense taking on the resurgent, explosive Texans' offense.  

As is turned out, that was only half right.

On a surreal Sunday afternoon in Nashville, the two teams locked horns in what looked more like a college football game than a traditional NFL slugfest.  

Be it Tennessee's Chris Johnson's video game-esque rushing totals or Houston quarterback Matt Shaub's gaudy passing numbers, both offenses moved the ball at will.

In essence, the game posed a good news/bad news scenario for the Titans.  

While it certainly was a pleasant surprise to see Tennessee hang around in an offensive duel, the fact remains that their much-hyped defense allowed themselves to be picked apart when it mattered most.

For the titans, the one glaring aspect of the game was their quarterback pressure, or lack thereof.  The Titans' defense produced precisely zero hurries, let alone zero sacks.

That will make just about any quarterback look good.  

Throw in the fact that Shaub had a big-time receiver in Andre Johnson to throw to, and it made Kerry Collins and his compadres' job darn near impossible, explosiveness or not.  

Suffice it to say, it's back to the drawing board for Chuck Cecil and Co.  At this point, Tennessee and its fans will take consistency. 

Dominance would be a bonus.

Sunday's drubbing answered few questions, and posed many more.

Was their defensive meltdown a fluke?  Are there serious issues yet to be addressed? Or are the Texans actually that improved, finally ready to move beyond their status as trendy preseason picks and actually deliver?  

Most had the Titans' offense as the would-be weak link this year in Tennesse's chain. After the season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, optimism remained high in Nashville.  

Yet now, facing an 0-2 hole with a tough remainder of the season's first half to go, things seem a bit more daunting.  

As a fan, one can only hope that if the Week Two debacle was indeed not a fluke, that at the very least the defense will come back on a mission next week against the talented, yet largely unproven, Mark Sanchez and the streaking New York Jets.

Ideally, the offense next week will keep ticking the way it did; they'll need to against Rex Ryan's aggressive defense that humbled Tom Brady.  It's just the suspect defense that needs to deliver after two-straight weeks of giving up big plays in crunch time.  

If not, the country music crooners on Music Row will have another bitter tale to tell.  


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