Final

Rams 13

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Titans 34

(1-0, 1-0 home)

8:00 PM ET, August 9, 2008

LP Field, Nashville, TN 

1 2 3 4 T
STL 3 10 0 013
TEN 7 13 7 734

Titans pound ball on ground, roll to sound win over Rams

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vince Young and LenDale White both have healthy legs, and rookie Chris Johnson gave a glimpse of why Tennessee drafted him in the first round. The Titans' passing game remains a work in progress.

Keith Bulluck intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown, and Johnson zipped up the middle 66 yards for a TD and the Titans beat the St. Louis Rams 34-13 on Saturday night in the preseason opener for both teams.

"I'm sure that was their worst nightmare," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said of Johnson, the 24th pick overall out of East Carolina, a draft selection heavily criticized at the time.

"That's why he's here. It's nice to have that talent as a weapon on offense when you have someone who can just go like he can. I would like to think this is not just an isolated play. I'd like to think we're going to see more of those out of him."

With St. Louis running back Steven Jackson holding out, the Rams had little offense. Tennessee picked off one pass by Marc Bulger, sacked his backups three times and held the Rams to 76 yards rushing compared to 340 by the Titans.

"We're not as good as we think we are," Bulger said. "We've got some things to work on."

St. Louis coach Scott Linehan wasn't in the mood to listen to excuses coming off last year's 3-13 season.

"I don't care who's in there whether it's the third-teamers or the rookies. I just want to see the true grit of our football team come out as we move forward," Lineman said.

Bullock said the Titans were a little upset at being told the Rams had manhandled them during two days of joint practices this week.

"We definitely wanted to go out there and make sure we didn't get manhandled tonight. Definitely, I think we did decent," he said.

Tennessee moved the ball at ease with 495 yards of offense. Johnson had 100 yards combined himself.

John Vaughn filled in for All Pro kicker Rob Bironas, out with a pulled groin muscle, by making field goals of 48 and 43 yards. Quinton Ganther, a seventh-round pick in 2006 who has played four games with the Titans, scored twice on runs of 45 and 2 yards.

Young, who played with a sore quadriceps muscle most of 2007, broke loose for a 35-yard run that was his longest since his rookie season. White had torn cartilage surgically repaired in his left knee after rushing for 1,110 yards last year. He ran six times for 33 yards but was stopped on fourth-and-1 on the opening drive.

Fisher hired coordinator Mike Heimerdinger in January to juice up an offense that threw for only nine TDs in 2007.

Young looked sharp on the opening drive, moving around and throwing on the run. But he overthrew his new tight end, four-time Pro Bowler Alge Crumpler, on a fade in the left corner of the end zone on third-and-2 from the St. Louis 5. He also was sacked two plays after his 35-yard run in which he dodged three defenders. He finished 3-of-6 for 17 yards.

"Alge is such a great target," Young said. "He knows how to get in and out of his routes, and obviously he knows how to catch the ball. Chris Johnson has another level of speed, and he's going to help us."

Tennessee backup Kerry Collins wasn't helped by receivers dropping balls or once failing to get a second foot in bounds.

"We have to make those catches," Fisher said.

Tennessee's defense was ranked fifth in the NFL last season and was a big reason the Titans reached the playoffs. Fans gave a resounding welcome to defensive end Jevon Kearse, the last player introduced. He signed a two-year contract last March to return to the team where he went to three Pro Bowls and was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year during their Super Bowl season of 1999.

Kearse knocked down Bulger's first pass, then rookie tackle Jason Jones tackled Brian Leonard for a 3-yard loss. The Rams took a delay of game penalty, then Bulger's pass went off Leonard to Bulluck, who ran in 13 yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Bulger finally got his first completion to a teammate on his fourth pass, a 16-yarder to Drew Bennett, and the Rams' first-team offense finally got on the board with a 44-yard field goal by Josh Brown late in the first. Bulger was 3-of-9 for 29 yards, and Trent Green wasn't much better, completing one of three for 16 yards.

Game notes


Titans cornerback Nick Harper was hurt on the opening play from scrimmage. He walked off on his own and went to the locker room for a bit before returning to the sideline. But he did not play again. ... St. Louis cornerback Justin King had X-rays during the first half on a hyperextended toe, which were negative. Rams tackle Brandon Gorin did not return in the second half with a shoulder injury. ... The Titans went 0-for-2 on replay challenges, the second when third-string quarterback Ingle Martin lobbied for the challenge after being stopped at the goal line on a 12-yard run to start the fourth quarter. ... The Titans won their preseason opener for the first time since 2004.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
St. Louis
Tennessee
1st Downs1524
3rd down efficiency
4-1311-17
4th down efficiency
0-00-2
Total Yards241495
Yards per play4.57.1
Total Drives13
Passing165155
Comp-Att
17-3113-26
Yards per pass
5.36.0
Interceptions thrown
10
Sacks-Yards Lost
3-251-6
Rushing76340
Rushing Attempts
2043
Yards per rush
3.87.9
Penalties7-616-44
Turnovers10
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
10
Possession25:1934:41

Passing Leaders

STLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Berlin11/141399.9002-16
Bulger3/9293.2010-0
TENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Collins7/161056.6000-0
Martin3/4399.8000-0

Rushing Leaders

STLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Pittman6213.517
Minor5204.008
TENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Ganther811514.4245
Johnson67712.8166

Receiving Leaders

STLRECYDSAVGTDLG
Looker47318.3047
Caldwell33010.0015
TENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Petrowski24321.5024
Scaife22814.0022

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERSTLTEN
TD07:41Keith Bulluck 13 Yd Interception Return (John Vaughn Kick) 07
FG02:47Josh Brown 44 Yd 37
SECOND QUARTERSTLTEN
FG14:50John Vaughn 48 Yd 310
TD04:48Chris Johnson 66 Yd Run (John Vaughn Kick) 317
TD03:30Antonio Pittman 2 Yd Run (Josh Brown Kick) 1017
FG01:27John Vaughn 43 Yd 1020
FG00:06Josh Brown 48 Yd 1320
THIRD QUARTERSTLTEN
TD04:18Quinton Ganther 45 Yd Run (John Vaughn Kick) 1327
FOURTH QUARTERSTLTEN
TD14:01Quinton Ganther 2 Yd Run (John Vaughn Kick) 1334