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Tennessee Titans take on Arizona Cardinals at LP Field Sunday

 

Tennessee Titans (5-8) vs. Arizona Cardinals (8-5)

Sunday, December 15th, 2013 | 3:25pm CST
LP Field | Nashville, TN | TV: FOX

Tennessee TitansNashville, TN – This week the Tennessee Titans (5-8) play their first home game since November 14th, hosting the NFC Wild Card hopeful Arizona Cardinals (8-5). The kickoff at LP Field (capacity 69,143) was flexed from its original time and now is scheduled for 3:25pm CST on Sunday, December 15th.

This week’s game will be televised regionally on Fox, including Nashville affiliate WZTV Fox 17. Justin Kutcher will handle play-by-play duties while Charles Davis provides analysis and Kristina Pink reports from the sidelines.

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) is pursued by Indianapolis Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn (32) on a 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at LP Field. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) is pursued by Indianapolis Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn (32) on a 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at LP Field. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, sideline reporter Cody Allison and game day host Larry Stone.

Last Week at Denver Broncos

Tennessee TitansThe Titans traveled to Denver last week and built an early lead, only to fall to the Broncos by a final score of 51-28.

The Titans scored three rushing touchdowns—two by Shonn Greene and one by Chris Johnson— and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick added a 41-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Justin Hunter in the loss.

Hunter, with four catches for a career-high 114 yards, reached the 100-yard receiving mark for the second time in three weeks. The second-round pick from the University of Tennessee has 18 receptions for 354 yards and four touchdowns, and one more touchdown reception would give him the most by a Titans rookie since Chris Sanders (nine) in 1995.

Fitzpatrick was starting his fourth consecutive game since Jake Locker was lost for the year with a foot injury. In his first season in Tennessee, Fitzpatrick has completed 149 of 242 passes for 1,705 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The Arizona Cardinals

Arizona CardinalsThe Cardinals currently reside in third place in the NFC West, trailing the Seattle Seahawks (11-2) by three games and the San Francisco 49ers (9-4) by one game. However, they are one of the leading contenders for one of two NFC Wild Card berths. Their .615 winning percentage is the third-best among non-division leaders in their conference with three weeks remaining in the regular season (through games of December 8th).

The Cardinals are in their first season under head coach Bruce Arians. A longtime assistant and offensive coordinator in the college and NFL ranks—he also was a head coach at Temple (1983 to 1988)— Arians was hired in Arizona after spending the 2012 campaign as offensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts. The one-year stint also included a run of 12 games as interim Colts head coach while Chuck Pagano was away from the team being treated for leukemia.

Cardinals starting quarterback Carson Palmer was brought to Arizona in a trade with the Oakland Raiders in April. This season, his 11th NFL in the NFL, the two-time Pro Bowl selection has completed 301 of 468 passes for 3,458 yards, 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions (85.6 passer rating).

Palmer’s primary target is Larry Fitzgerald, who has made the Pro Bowl in seven of his 10 NFL seasons. Earlier in the year, the former first-round pick became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards. Through 13 games in 2013, he has 67 catches for 774 yards and 10 touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals field the NFL’s fifth-ranked defense. With standouts on each level of their defense like cornerback Patrick Peterson, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, and linebackers John Abraham and Daryl Washington, the Cardinals rank third in defending the rush and 11th in defending the pass.

U.S. Marine Corps Toys For Tots Drive

U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for TotsPrior to the game, fans are encouraged to participate in the annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off with members of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve stationed outside of the gates at LP Field.

All toys collected during the drive will be used in the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program and distributed to children in Middle Tennessee.

Titans-Cardinals Series At A Glance

  • Overall series (regular & postseason): Cardinals lead 5-4
  • Regular season series: Cardinals lead 5-4
  • Postseason series: None
  • Total points: Titans 185, Cardinals 210
  • Current streak: One win by Titans
  • Titans at home vs. Cardinals: 2-3
  • Titans on the road vs. Cardinals: 2-2
  • Longest winning streak by Titans: 2 (1985-88)
  • Longest losing streak by Titans: 3 (1970-79)
  • Titans vs. Cardinals at LP Field: 1-0
  • Last time at LP Field: Cardinals 17 at Titans 20 (11/29/09)
  • Titans vs. Cardinals at Univ. of Phoenix Stadium: 0-0
  • Last Time at Univ. of Phoenix Stadium: (none)
  • Last Time at Sun Devil Stadium: Titans 10 at Cardinals 20 (10/23/05)
  • First time: Oilers 0 at St. Louis Cardinals 44 (11/1/70)
  • Mike Munchak’s record vs. Cardinals: 0-0
  • Bruce Arians’ record vs. Titans: 0-0
  • Mike Munchak’s record vs. Bruce Arians: 0-0

A Titans Victory Would

  • Improve Mike Munchak’s career record as a head coach to 21-25.
  • Improve quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s career record as a starter to 26-48-1.

What To Look For This Week

K Rob Bironas (88 points in 2013) needs 12 points to record his seventh consecutive 100-point season.

DT Jurrell Casey (nine sacks in 2013) needs one sack to become the second Titans/Oilers defensive tackle since 1982 to reach double digits in sacks in a season (13 by Ray Childress in 1992).

WR Justin Hunter (four touchdown receptions) needs one touchdown reception to give him the most by a Titans rookie since Chris Sanders (nine) in 1995.

RB Chris Johnson can record his second 100-yard rushing game of 2013 and the 35th 100-yard rushing game of his career.

RB Chris Johnson needs 65 receiving yards to reach 2,000 career receiving yards. He would become the second player in franchise history to have 7,000 career rushing yards and 2,000 career receiving yards (Eddie George) and the fourth active NFL player to do so (Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew).

CB Alterraun Verner (five interceptions in 2013) needs one interception to become the first Titans player since Michael Griffin in 2008 (seven interceptions) to record six or more interceptions in a season.

WR Kendall Wright (73 receptions in 2013) needs two receptions to record the most receptions by a Titans player in a season since Derrick Mason’s 96 and Drew Bennett’s 80 catches in 2004 (Nate Washington, 74 in 2011).

WR Kendall Wright (857 receiving yards in 2013) needs 143 receiving yards to record his first career 1,000-yard season.

Titans-Cardinal Series History

This week’s game renews a rare rivalry. Of all opponents that have been in existence since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, the Cardinals have played the Oilers/Titans the fewest amount of times—nine games total. The Cardinals lead the series 5-4, but the Titans won the most recent meeting in 2009.

There have been just two Titans-Cardinals games (2005 and 2009) between the clubs in their current incarnations—the Cardinals played in St. Louis from 1960-87 (they played in Chicago prior to that), and the Titans were the Houston Oilers (1960-96) and Tennessee Oilers (1997-98) prior to taking their current name in 1999.

In the 2005 game, which was played at Sun Devil Stadium, Billy Volek started at quarterback instead of Steve McNair, who was out with a sore back. Volek passed for 198 yards, one touchdown and one interception before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion.

Matt Mauck was called upon to complete the game but fell short in a 20-10 defeat.

In the most recent regular-season matchup on November 29th, 2009, the Titans needed a late 99-yard touchdown drive to clinch a 20-17 victory against the Cardinals at LP Field. Led by quarterback Vince Young, the Titans converted three times on fourth down on the game winning drive, including a 10-yard touchdown pass from Young to Kenny Britt with no time remaining.

On November 1st, 1970, in the first-ever matchup between the Oilers and Cardinals, the Cardinals won by a score of 44-0. It stood as the largest shutout loss in the history of the Oilers and Titans until 2009 and began a three-game winning streak for the Cardinals against the Oilers (1970, 1974 and 1979). The Oilers then won consecutive games (1985 and 1988) before exchanging victories in the 1990s (Cardinals won in 1994, Oilers in 1997).

The Cardinals were founded in 1898, making the team the United States’ oldest professional football franchise still in existence. In 1920, they became a charter member of the National Football League (then the American Professional Football Association). They share a distinction with the Chicago Bears of being the only two of 11 charter members still operating today. The Cardinals have played as the Morgan Athletic Club, the Normals, Racine Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals, St. Louis Cardinals, Phoenix Cardinals and Arizona Cardinals.

Titans-Cardinals: The Last Meeting

Arizona Cardinals 17 at Tennessee Titans 20
Sunday, November 29th, 2009
LP Field, Nashville, TN

1 2 3 4 Final
Arizona Cardinals 0 3 7 7 17
Tennessee Titans 3 3 7 7 20

 

In Week 12 of the 2009 season, the Titans used a 99-yard touchdown drive in the game’s final minutes to defeat the Arizona Cardinals 20-17 at LP Field.

Trailing 17-13, the Titans took over on their own one-yard line with 2:37 on the clock in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Vince Young directed the team down the field, completing nine of 16 pass attempts for 94 yards and rushing for an additional six yards on the drive. The longest play of the series was a 19-yard completion to tight end Bo Scaife on a pass that was tipped by the Cardinals at the line of scrimmage.

In addition to one third down conversion, the Titans converted three fourth downs on the drive. Kenny Britt (10-yard reception) and Lavelle Hawkins (13-yard reception) converted the first two fourth down attempts.

With six seconds on the clock, the Titans faced a fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard line. Young then found Britt in the back of the end zone for the game-winning score as time expired.

The Titans held the lead for most of the game and got on the scoreboard first. After a three-and-out by the Cardinals on their initial drive, the Titans moved into scoring territory thanks to a 29-yard pass from Young to Nate Washington. Rob Bironas then completed the drive with a 52-yard field goal. That would be the only score of the first quarter.

The Titans’ second drive used almost half of the first quarter and lasted into the second quarter. Bironas capped the 89-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal nearly nine minutes (8:55) after the drive began.

With 1:55 on the clock in the second quarter, Arizona’s Neil Rackers cut the lead in half with a 41-yard field goal. A late charge by the Titans at the end of the half ended when Young was sacked on the Arizona 19-yard line.

The teams exchanged punts to begin the third quarter. Then, on second-and-10 from the Tennessee 15-yard line, Titans running back Chris Johnson took a handoff and raced 85 yards for a touchdown.

However, on the ensuing kickoff, LaRod Stephens-Howling scored on a 98-yard return, quickly cutting the Titans’ lead to 13-10. With 12:20 on the clock in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals took their first lead of the game when Tim Hightower crossed the goal line on a six yard touchdown run.

With less than five minutes remaining in the game, Young and Britt connected on a 51-yard pass. However, at the conclusion of the play, Arizona cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie forced a fumble, and Bryant McFadden recovered the ball for the Cardinals.

The Titans defense forced a three-and-out, but a 64-yard punt by Ben Graham pinned the Titans at the one-yard line, setting the stage for the dramatic game-winning surge.

The Titans’ total of 532 net yards included 154 rushing yards by Johnson, 387 passing yards by Young and 128 receiving yards by Britt.


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