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Johnson: Titans see 4-0 mark as just a beginning

Monday, September 29, 2008

(Photo)
Titans linebacker Keith Bullock breaks up a pass intended for Viking tight end Visanthe Shiancoe in the fourth quarter.
(T-G Photo by Jimmy Jones)
For the first time in their 49-year franchise history, the Tennessee Titans have started the season with four straight wins.

That milestone was achieved when the Titans rolled past visiting Minnesota 30-17 on Sunday afternoon.

Tennessee is one of only two 4-0 NFL teams. The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants are 3-0 after a bye this week.

The Baltimore Ravens are 2-0 and play tonight at Pittsburgh.

The Titans play at Baltimore on Sunday.

In a 16-game regular season, it seems that the "magic number" of wins that should get a team into the playoff is 10, so a 4-0 start is a huge step in that direction.

"They're (Tennessee) 4-0," Minnesota safety Darren Sharper, a 12-year NFL veteran, said. "If you get off to a 4-0 start and play ..500 football the rest of the time, you're in the playoffs. So they got a good start."

"We expect to do that every year," Titan coach Jeff Fisher said about his team's 4-0 start. "Go out, play hard, stay healthy, and make plays. This is a case where I'm glad that I don't have to say that we're a couple plays away from being 2-2.

"Because we've won ball games, (we're) making plays, but we've won these ballgames, which is good. All they care about right now is Baltimore. They've learned to keep these kinds of things in perspective. They're so appreciative of the fans here. Now we're going to go on the road and play a good opponent."

It's important for the Titans to keep everything in perspective.

The NFL is full of surprises and uncertainty. Injuries to key players, other teams on a roll, and major upsets can all affect the standings along the way.

"We have a good formula and so far through four games, we've won with that formula," Titan defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said.

Thus far that "formula" has been outstanding defense, sufficient offense and quality special teams.

Actually, the Titans are on a league-leading seven-game regular season win streak, dating back to Dec. 9, 2007, when they dropped a 23-17 decision to San Diego.

Sure, the Titans are excited with the 4-0 start, but they understand it's just the first quarter of the 16-game season and seem to be focused on a much bigger picture.

"We're happy with 4-0, believe me," Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins said. "We need to understand there's a lot of football left to be played. We've gotten off to a great start but we need to be able to put things behind us. Certainly, we have gotten off to a great start but there's a lot of work to do. We can improve in a lot of areas. As long as we take that attitude, I think it gives us a chance to keep winning football games."

With leadership like Collins' now in the huddle and running the Titan offense, I like their chances of getting to that "magic number" of 10 wins and making the playoffs.

But, rememberů.keep all things in perspective.

Perhaps the always blunt and straight-to-the-point Keith Bulluck said it best.

"We still have a chance to go 4-12, knock on wood."

--Gary Johnson is a Times-Gazette sports writer. He can be contacted at gjohnson@t-g.com.

Gary Johnson
Point by Point