Kings of the South: Titans clinch division, defeat Browns 28-9

For the first time since 2002, the Tennessee Titans, not the Indianapolis Colts, are the kings of the AFC South.

The Titans clinched their first division title in six years with a commanding 28-9 victory over the helpless Cleveland Browns.

Smash and Dash rumbled for 235 yards and the Titan defense overwhelmed a Cleveland offensive attack led by limp-armed, 3rd-string QB Ken Dorsey.

More thoughts on the Titans’ division-clinching win are after the jump.

Game balls

On a day when he went over the 1,000-yard mark, Chris Johnson was an all-purpose threat on offense. CJ rushed for 136 yards, including a 25-yard TD scamper in the 4th quarter. He also contributed towards the passing game, catching 4 passes for 30 yards.

It’s been said countless times, but CJ has been quite the difference-maker for the Titan offense in 2008. Hopefully, his stellar year will be capped off with NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

On defense, I’ll issue a game ball to talented safety Michael Griffin. Griff intercepted a pass, nearly picked off another while also chipping in with three tackles.

Apologies to veterans Nick Harper and Chris Hope, but outside of Cortland Finnegan, Griffin’s probably been the Titans’ best defensive back in 2008. If he doesn’t make it to Honolulu this year, a Pro Bowl appearance is definitely awaiting him down the road.

As for special teams, I’ll go with Chris Carr. On an afternoon when the usually-reliable Craig Hentrich averaged 29 yards per punt and Rob Bironas only attempting extra-points, Carr was a special teams’ standout with his 44-yard punt return.

Kerry Collins hates D’Qwell Jackson

Cleveland’s 3rd year linebacker was solely responsible for both of Kerry Collins’ interceptions today. In both instances, Jackson was Houdini-like as he hid under the Browns’ zone-coverages, only to emerge out of the blue to pick-off Collins twice.

Outside of the turnovers, Collins was adequate, tossing two touchdown passes while completing 14 of his 23 throws. Not his best performance, but certainly not his worse (cough, cough, Ravens-game).

Smash-mouth returns: Part II

After abandoning their customary bread-n-butter power rushing attack for a few weeks, the Titans returned to their smash-mouth roots last week as they trampled the Lions on Turkey Day.

The Titans continued their running ways today as Smash and Dash accounted for over 200 yards on the ground against the Browns. 

As we all know, the Titans are at their best when they feature their trademark running game. The smash-mouth formula will be needed as the Titans prepare for their postseason-run.

Too many penalties

The Titans were often on the wrong side of the zebras’ calls today, as they were whistled for an astounding 13 penalties. I guarantee you Jeff Fisher is lashing out about this as I type these words.

A lack of discipline isn’t going to cut it in the playoffs, so hopefully, the Titans can cut-down on the penalties during the postseason.

Final thoughts

1. Poor LenDale White.

After momentarily joining CJ as a 100-yard rusher on the afternoon, White was tackled for a one-yard loss on a 4th and 2. The carry left White at 99 yards on 24 carries, falling a yard short of the century mark.

2. Great play-call by Dinger on Sarge’s touchdown catch.

Faced with a 4th and 1, the Browns sold out to stop the run. Collins faked the handoff to LenDale and tossed a short pass to a wide-open Hall, who rumbled in for the score.

3. Jacob Ford stepped up with a sack today.

After losing last year to an achilles injury, Ford has been a valuable member of Washburn’s D-line rotation in 2008.

4. Josh Cribbs, not noodle-armed Ken Dorsey, should have been Cleveland’s main QB today. 

Not only is he a threat to run, but he showed off his throwing arm with a long pass to Braylon Edwards that was caught out of bounds.

5. Speaking of the Browns, there’s no way that Romeo Crennel returns as their head coach in 2009.

What are your thoughts on today’s division-clinching win?  

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