Titans showing signs of stingy, hard-hitting defense Print
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Friday, 21 September 2007 12:03
NFL Headline News

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Kyle Vanden Bosch turned to teammate Cortland Finnegan during a timeout last Sunday and asked him if he had set his TiVo to record the game because he was about to make a big play.
Then, Vanden Bosch delivered by sacking Peyton Manning and forcing Indianapolis to punt.
Bold talk, but the defensive end and his fellow linemen are making good on their promises to help improve a Tennessee defense that gave up more yards than any other in the NFL last season.
``I would say they're the centerpiece of our defense,'' Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said.
The Titans (1-1) don't worry too much about yardage allowed. They focus more on sacks, disrupting the quarterback and stopping the run.
So far, they have five sacks, three more than at this time last year, and 17 quarterback pressures. Two sacks came against Manning, a quarterback sacked only twice in his previous seven regular-season games combined and 14 for all of 2006. One hit resulted in a rare interception.
That's a big improvement for a defense that went seven games without a sack in 2006 and finished with 26. It helps that the Titans have swung Vanden Bosch from the left end to the right side, next to tackle Albert Haynesworth.
Bulluck sees a unit wreaking havoc.
``They're a force more so this year than they have been in the past,'' Bulluck said. ``They're all on the same page, not just Kyle and Albert, but Antwan Odom, Tony Brown. All those guys that rotate in on the defensive line, they're all on the same page and they're very dominant right now.''
The Titans have allowed 78 yards rushing per game so far.
That's not good news for the Saints (0-2), a team that had the NFL's top offense last season and now struggling to run or score points. Drew Brees has been sacked three times himself, and he sees a challenge with Tennessee.
``They're pretty stout,'' Brees said. ``That's definitely something that sticks out the minute you turn on the film. With their pass-rush and their energy, I think those guys are very active and make a lot of plays. That's something we're definitely going to have to have a plan for.''
The Titans know they face a different challenge Monday night. They held Jacksonville to 75 yards rushing and forced Indianapolis to kick four field goals.
But the Saints are desperate to jump-start their offense after scoring only two touchdowns through eight quarters, both in the second half after trailing 21-0 at Tampa Bay in a 31-14 loss last week. Deuce McAllister has had 10 carries in each of the first two games with 87 yards rushing combined.
Reggie Bush has 115 yards combined running and receiving.
``If we can stop these two running backs, we can stop just about anybody,'' Vanden Bosch said.
The Saints have had the opposite problem, giving up 72 points with no sacks.
Tennessee expects to hear more noise than usual in a road trip with the Superdome making it sound louder. That won't make it easy chasing Brees, a quarterback that has impressed the Titans with his ability to move around and throw with accuracy.
``He can be backpedaling, make a 30-, 40-yard throw and be completely accurate,'' Haynesworth said.
The Titans know two games are only a start toward their goal of becoming one of the NFL's stingier defenses, as they were in 2003 when they were the best in stopping the run.
``That's what we're trying to get back,'' Haynesworth said.

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