|Titans start 3-game home stand against Raiders|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 11:48|
Now if only the Tennessee Titans can make it work to their advantage.
Tennessee started this season playing four of its first six games on the road. The Titans (4-2) return to LP Field on Sunday, hosting the Oakland Raiders to start their first three-game homestand since 2000.
That season, the Titans finished with the NFL's best record, 13-3.
None of these Titans are looking that far ahead, but they do know the importance of getting on a roll, or down to business, according to linebacker Keith Bulluck.
``We have to win all three of these games. Good teams that usually get into the playoffs and go that far, they have a great home record. I think we're 1-1 at home, so we have to be 4-1 at home when our three-game stint is over,'' Bulluck said.
The timing couldn't be better for Tennessee after blowing a 32-7 lead last weekend in Houston before pulling out a 38-36 victory behind Rob Bironas' league-record eight field goals. Vince Young also should be back at quarterback after sitting out that game with a strained right quadriceps.
Young said it's nice to finally get before the home fans for an extended period. He's seen the excitement with fans once again driving around with Titans flags flying from their car windows, hoping for a playoff berth after three straight non-winning seasons.
``We want to keep doing what we're doing,'' Young said.
This is an important game for the Raiders, as well. Having already matched last year's win total, they come to Nashville having lost two straight, including last week's 12-10 home loss to Kansas City despite having fourth-quarter leads in three losses.
First-year Raiders coach Lane Kiffin isn't happy at coming close.
``It's about winning. We need to do that. We need to learn how to finish these games,'' Kiffin said. ``Obviously, we'd like to start better than we have been and not put ourselves in these holes where we have to play so well in the second half to get back and to get ahead.''
This game on paper pits the Raiders' strength against what the Titans do best. Oakland (2-4) brings an offense averaging 145.8 yards rushing per game, while Tennessee is allowing a league-low 59.7 yards rushing. The Titans have held three of their last four opponents to 39 yards rushing or fewer.
Bulluck said Oakland will not be able to run on them even with LaMont Jordan, Dominic Rhodes and Justin Fargas.
``We're looking forward to this game. It's another great challenge to test our run defense, and hopefully, we'll just make a long, long trip for Oakland coming out here this week,'' Bulluck said.
Josh McCown, who started the first three games, returned to practice this week from his broken left big toe. But Daunte Culpepper appeared headed toward his fourth straight start at quarterback, and he said the Raiders must work together. He's also curious to see how Jordan runs against the Titans.
``He's a great competitor, and he wants to be good. I think he knows he's got to bring his hard hat because (Tennessee) is a team that's been able to stop the run. I think he does relish that,'' Culpepper said.
The Raiders will have to find a way to run and keep the ball away from Tennessee or risk watching from the sideline. The Titans average 144 yards rushing themselves and are holding the ball 34 minutes a game, second best in the NFL.
LenDale White is coming off the first 100-yard rushing performance of his career for the Titans. They may be without Chris Brown (ankle) for a second straight game, but rookie Chris Henry filled in last week with 57 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, whose three sacks lead the Titans, said it's really fun to play at home with the fans roaring and making it tough for opposing offenses to audible or check out of plays at the line. The Titans are 43-26 at home since opening this stadium, and Vanden Bosch said they want to re-establish their home-field advantage after going 4-4 last season.
``We really want to make it known that we're a tough team at home. We're not going to lose at home. Hopefully, we'll get that rolling right now,'' he said.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher is ready to remind his players not to look ahead to visits from Carolina (4-2) or Jacksonville (4-2).
``We know that we will not be traveling for several weeks. But we're not, by any means, going to look past this opponent. We'll focus to try to find a way to win this game,'' Fisher said. ``And if that happens, then we'll refocus on the next opponent.''