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Saturday, September 19, 2009

AFC South Week 1 Recap-By Rafael Garcia Football Reporters Online

                                                                                                  AFC South Week 1
By Rafael Garcia
Sr. Contributing Writer
Southeast Region
Pittsburgh 13 Tennessee 10
The last time these two teams met was December 08 when the Titans beat up on the Steelers. There was the incident with the terrible towel that was stomped on by Keith Bullock and LenDale White. There has been bad blood brewing between these two opponents since last year. So they found themselves playing again last night and picked up right where they left off. This was a battle between two defensive heavyweights. The Titans had every chance to have a good lead going into the locker room at the half. Instead they missed a field goal and had another try blocked. They also blew a few scoring opportunities as drives stalled in Steeler territory.  Still it was tied 7-7 at the half on the arms of the quarterbacks. Ben Rothlisberger hit Santonio Holmes for a 34 yard score and then Justin Gage roped in a Kerry Collins 14 yarder to tie it. The teams matched scores again in the fourth quarter when each made a field goal and the stage was set for a fantastic finish. Late in the game Michael Griffin stripped the ball from Hines Ward deep in Tennessee territory. It gave the titans new life and forced overtime. Up to this point in the game it was a defensive battle as expected with neither team being able to force the issue. Still there were too many mistakes that had Titan fans saying their team gave it away again. Just like late last year they found them turning the ball over and trying not to make mistakes. They managed just 14 yards on four punt returns. They added 59 yards on three kickoff returns. That will not win you many games in the NFL. Now they have to see if they can find someone to fill a hole they need to fill badly. The passing defense was nothing to scream about as well. Rothlisberger torched them for 363 yards on 33 of 43 passing. They could not stop him when it mattered most in the overtime. You just felt it was over when the Steelers won the toss. The run defense was another story. They held Pittsburgh to 36 yards on 25 carries with Willie Parker accounting for 19 on 13 carries. On offense Kerry Collins had a good day. He was 22-35 for 244 yards and the touchdown pass to Gage. He does not have his full complement of receivers yet as injuries still nag some. Nate Washington was not at full speed so rookie Kenny Britt started. Britt impressed his coaches as he caught four passes for 87 yards including a nice 57 yarder. This year will be different for Collins, as he will be looked at more to make a play. The Titans running game did not make the splash they hoped it would. Chris Johnson had 57 yards on 15 carries and LenDale White went 8 for 28. The Steeler defense never allowed them to set any kind of tone with the run. Of course you could look at this game another way. The fact that they were able to move the ball on the Steelers and missed scoring chances can be looked at positively. At least they feel they can play with anyone but know they cannot make mistakes like the ones that beat them Thursday night. 
Indianapolis 14 Jacksonville 12
When you start the season off playing a game in your division it is important to get the win early. This helps set the tone for the rest of your season because you basically have a two game edge on that team. With that in mind the Jags and Colts got it on Sunday to see who could get that edge. Well it would appear at first glance that the Indy defense has been improved. They allowed the Jags just 228 total yards and held Maurice Jones-Drew to less than five yards a carry when he has been getting more than six as of late. They came up with two huge defensive stands in the fourth quarter to preserve the win. Rookie corner Derek Cox picked off a Peyton Manning pass, recovered Joseph Addai’s fumble but gave up a touchdown to Reggie Wayne. Not too bad for your first NFL game. Wayne had himself a game as well catching 10 passes for 162 yards and the touchdown. Manning was his usual great self going 28-31 for 301 yards with the strike to Wayne and the pick to Cox. Jags quarterback David Garrard was 14-28 for just 122 yards and had a shot to lead his team to a win. He got the ball back with two minutes left and then imploded when he went four and out. Again the Indianapolis defense just put too much pressure on him. So on this day the Colts saw what their defense could look like in 2009. If they can keep it up and get players like Bob Sanders back healthy things look promising for the Colts. As for the Jags, well they have to muster more on offense and not let mistakes beat them. The Colts also lost receiver Anthony Gonzalez when he started a cross route and fell to the ground untouched. The status of his injury is yet unknown at this time. That would be a big blow to Indy.
New York Jets 24 Houston 7
We can call this game a tale of two seasons. For the Jets it was the coming out party for quarterback Mark Sanchez. On the other side of the ball the Texans were looking for a breakout season after going 8-8 last year. Well it had to go wrong for one of these teams and that was Houston. They played flat and nothing like the team wanted to start the year. Running back Steve Slayton was held to 17 yards on nine carries and was never a factor. Houston was held to 38 yards rushing total and quarterback Matt Shaub could not make up for that. He went 18-33 but managed just 166 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. The Texans had only 183 yards of offense against a strong Jets defense. Three turnovers and two sacks added to their woes, as they could not mount a threat all day. The defensive unit that is supposed to be the backbone of the team was shattered on opening day. Joe Namath was there and gave Sanchez a pregame pep talk that obviously worked. The rookie finished 18-1 for 272 yards and a 30-yard touchdown pass to Chansi Stuckey. Houston’s defense allowed Sanchez to roll out, complete passes when hit or on third down. They were out gained 462-183 and wide receiver Andre Johnson was held to 35 yards on four catches. With the offense stalled and the defense soft the Texans find themselves playing from behind yet again. They must get back on track quickly, not only because they are expected to, but also because another bad year may be the last for head coach Gary Kubiak.


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