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Tennessee Titans face road test against Carolina Panthers

Tennessee Titans (4-4) at Carolina Panthers (2-6)
Sunday, November 13th, 2011 • Noon CST
Bank of America Stadium • Charlotte, NC • TV: CBS

Tennessee TitansNashville, TN – With the Titans (4-4) at the midpoint of their season, they begin a stretch of three consecutive games against teams from the NFC South this week, traveling to take on the Carolina Panthers (2-6). Kickoff at Bank of America Stadium (capacity 73,504) is scheduled for noon CST on Sunday, November 13th.

There is no current NFL team the Titans/Oilers have played fewer times than the Panthers, as this week will be just the fourth all-time meeting. Carolina, which launched as an expansion franchise in 1995, won the initial matchup in 1996, and the Titans took the two most recent pairings in 2003 and 2007.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans have yet to face a team from the NFC in 2011, but recent seasons have yielded positive results against the opposite conference. Since the NFL realigned to eight divisions in 2002, the Titans own a 26-10 (.722) interconference record, ranking third in the NFL.

The Titans need to win to either maintain or improve their position within the AFC South. The Houston Texans, who play at Tampa Bay this week, are 6-3 and in first place. The Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) and Indianapolis Colts (0-9) all trail the Texans in the division.

If the Titans ultimately are to make a move up in the standings, they will have to do so while playing the majority of their remaining contests on the road. Beginning with the trips to Carolina and then Atlanta, they play five of their final eight games away from LP Field.

This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF News-Channel 5. Kevin Harlan will handle play-by-play duties, while Solomon Wilcots will provide analysis.

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 gameday host Larry Stone.

The game can be heard locally on 1400 AM, WJZM.

Last Week

Tennessee TitansThe Titans got off to a promising start in last week’s game at LP Field, but ultimately they were defeated 24-17 at the hands of the upstart Bengals. With Matt Hasselbeck touchdown passes to wide receivers Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins and a field goal by Rob Bironas, they took a 17-7 lead into halftime. However, the Bengals scored 17 unanswered points in the final two quarters, while the Titans were unable to muster big plays or a sustained drive to build on their first-half performance.

Despite the loss, Hasselbeck continued his impressive showing in 2011. His 13 touchdown passes tie his career high through the first eight games of the season, and with 2,014 passing yards, the 13-year veteran became the franchise’s first player in the 16-game-schedule era (1978-present) other than Warren Moon (1986, ’90, ’91 and ’92) to reach 2,000 passing yards in the first eight games.

The Panthers

Panthers HelmetMeanwhile, the Panthers were off last week with a bye. While they were winners in only two of their first eight contests, almost all were highly competitive. Only one of their losses (31-17 to Atlanta) has been by more than seven points. Most recently, they fell to the Minnesota Vikings 24-21 on October 30th.

Like the Titans, who are in their first season with Mike Munchak at the helm, the Panthers also have a new head coach and quarterback. Ron Rivera, a former defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers, became the fourth head coach in Panthers history when he was hired in January.

The first draft pick in Rivera’s tenure was Cam Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy and a BCS Championship with Auburn University prior to becoming the first-overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. Through eight games, he has proven to be one of the league’s most dynamic rookies, passing for 2,393 yards and 11 touchdowns as the team’s starter since Week 1. Additionally, he has accumulated 319 yards and seven touchdowns as a rusher.

Titans-Panthers Series At A Glance

  • Overall series (regular & postseason): Titans lead 2-1
  • Regular season series: Titans lead 2-1
  • Postseason series: None
  • Total points: Titans 63, Panthers 55
  • Current streak: Two wins by Titans
  • Titans at home vs. Panthers: 1-1
  • Titans on road vs. Panthers: 1-0
  • Longest winning streak by Titans: 2 (2003-present)
  • Longest losing streak by Titans: 1 (1996)
  • Titans vs. Panthers at LP Field: 1-0
  • Last time at LP Field: Panthers 7 at Titans 20 (11/4/07)
  • Titans vs. Panthers at Bank of America Stadium: 1-0
  • Last time at Bank of America Stadium: Titans 37 at Panthers 17 (10/19/03)
  • First time: Panthers 31 at Oilers 6 (11/24/96)
  • Mike Munchak’s record vs. Panthers: 0-0
  • Ron Rivera’s record vs. Titans: 0-0
  • Mike Munchak’s record vs. Ron Rivera: 0-0

What to Look For This Week

This is the first of three consecutive games for the Titans against NFC South opponents (11/20 at Atlanta, 11/27 vs. Tampa Bay).

QB Matt Hasselbeck can record the 24th 300-yard passing game of his career.

RB Chris Johnson can record the 26th 100-yard rushing game of his career.

RB Chris Johnson needs one rushing touchdown to tie Steve Mc-Nair (36 career rushing touchdowns) for third place on the team’s
all-time list.

RB Chris Johnson (4,964 rushing yards) needs 36 rushing yards to reach 5,000 for his career.

T Michael Roos is scheduled to make his 105th consecutive start.

G Jake Scott is scheduled to make his 113th consecutive start.

Titans-Panthers Series History

The Titans have played fewer games against the Panthers than any other NFL team. There have been just three regular season matchups and one preseason meeting (2010) since the Panthers began play as an expansion team in 1995. The Titans have won the last two regular season games with the Panthers after losing the initial meeting.

In 1996, the then-Houston Oilers and Carolina Panthers met in one of the final games to be played in the Houston Astrodome. In the Panthers’ second year of existence, they won what turned out to be their third game of an eight-game winning streak that ended with an NFC Championship Game loss at Green Bay. In a 31-6 victory, Panthers quarterback Steve Beuerlein tossed three touchdowns and linebacker Sam Mills returned a fumbled exchange between Titans quarterback Steve McNair and center Mark Stepnoski 41 yards for a touchdown.

Despite collecting five more first downs (17 to 12) and 17 more yards (274 to 251) than Carolina, Houston’s only points in the game came from two field goals by kicker Al Del Greco.

The tables were turned in the 2003 rematch. The Titans traveled to Carolina and came away with a 37-17 win, which was their third victory in a six-game winning streak and a run of nine wins in their last 11 games of the regular season. The Panthers had opened their season with five consecutive victories before their loss to the Titans. McNair passed for one touchdown and ran for another in the game. Kicker Gary Anderson made three field goals, and the Titans scored 20 points off turnovers, including a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Keith Bulluck.

In 2007, the Titans improved their record to 6-2 through eight games with a 20-7 victory over the Panthers at LP Field. The Titans scored touchdowns on rushes by Vince Young and LenDale White, and Rob Bironas booted a pair of field goals in the game, including a 53-yarder.

Titans-Panthers: The Last Meeting

Carolina Panthers 7 at Tennessee Titans 20
Sunday, November 4th, 2007
LP Field, Nashville, TN

In their eighth game of the 2007 regular season, the Titans overcame four turnovers with a stubborn defensive effort and a pair of rushing touchdowns to defeat the Carolina Panthers at LP Field, 20-7.

The Titans themselves forced a pair of interceptions, the last of which safety Chris Hope recorded with 2:13 remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory. The interception was thrown by Panthers rookie quarterback Matt Moore, who entered the game with three minutes to play after starter David Carr was knocked out of the contest with an injury.

At his departure, Carr had been sacked seven times in the game, the most sacks recorded by a Titans defense since October 9th, 2005 and one sack shy of a Titans record. Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth led the charge with a career-high three sacks, while linebacker David Thornton, defensive tackle Tony Brown, and defensive ends Travis LaBoy and Kyle Vanden Bosch each added one sack.

After the Titans scored the game’s first 20 points, the Panthers did not get on the scoreboard until the 9:29 mark in the fourth quarter. Carolina drove 77 yards on seven plays, and Carr capped the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Carter.

The Titans offense started the game quickly, scoring a touchdown on their opening series for the first time in 2007. Rookie Chris Henry returned the opening kickoff 46 yards, and then the offense drove 52 yards on 10 plays, including a 16-yard scramble by Vince Young to convert a third-and seven. Later, on a third-and-goal from the three-yard line, Young ran up the middle for a touchdown.

After consecutive three-and-outs by the Panthers, the Titans once again received favorable field position following a 39-yard punt return by rookie Chris Davis. Rob Bironas converted a 47-yard field goal to provide a 10-0 lead.

The Titans had a chance to add to their lead midway through the second quarter. Brown batted a pass attempt by Carr, and LaBoy grabbed it out of the air to record his first career interception. Two plays later, however, Young was intercepted by Panthers cornerback Ken Lucas in the end zone.

The Titans got the ball back with 1:50 remaining in the first half. Aided by two key third down conversions – the first an 18-yard screen pass to Henry on third-and-17 and the second courtesy of an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Panthers – Young drove the offense to the Carolina 35-yard line. Bironas connected on a 53-yard field goal as time expired in the half.

There were 20 total infractions in the game – 10 by each team. Each club also had four personal foul penalties enforced.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Titans put the game out of reach early in the fourth stanza. Capping a series that covered 86 yards on 13 plays and consumed over six minutes at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter, running back LenDale White scored on a one-yard touchdown run. White carried nine total times in the drive for 38 yards.

White set a career high with 31 carries in the game and totaled 100 yards. It was his third consecutive 100-yard effort.

The Titans defense limited the Panthers to 78 rushing yards and 113 net passing yards.

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