Too Late... Titans Stomp Rams

Cars are stranded on a street flooded by rain from hurricane Rita in New Orleans parish, Sept. 23, 2005, in New Orleans.
AP
The Tennessee Titans took their Super Bowl rematch seriously even if the St. Louis Rams didn't.

Steve McNair threw for a touchdown, backup Neil O'Donnell tossed two more and the defense got five sacks as the Tennessee Titans routed the Rams 30-3 Monday night in a preseason pairing of their last game in January.

"We really prepared for this like it was a regular-season game," All Pro defensive end Jevon Kearse said. "Not just for revenge for the Super Bowl, but to show the world we're not a joke. We're here to play. We've put it out there in their heads and in everyone else's heads around the league."

If any of the Titans blocked out coming up 36 inches short of the tying touchdown in the Super Bowl, coach Jeff Fisher reminded them of that agonizing loss before kickoff.

"He put it to us this way it's like when you're a kid and somebody steals your candy, and you never find them again. We know they stole our rings," Kearse said.

It wasn't the Georgia Dome in January, but the atmosphere felt like much more than just an exhibition. Navy SEALS jumped into Adelphia Coliseum before kickoff, and tickets were being scalped outside the sold-out stadium.

"We came in from the pregame warmups, and the feeling in the locker room was this is as close as it gets to a regular-season game," Fisher said. "And we played like it. We didn't hold back. We went out and played hard."

The Rams (1-1) helped excite the crowd with their college impersonation as they jumped on the Titans' flameball logo at midfield before the introductions.

That would be the most life the Super Bowl champs showed all night.

St. Louis coach Mike Martz, in just his second game since taking over after Dick Vermeil's retirement, took credit for the poor play of the Rams.

"I didn't have this football team prepared for what they were going to see tonight. Obviously, this is an important game for Tennessee. Because it's the rematch, they took this one seriously," he said.

The Titans (2-0) played keepaway the entire first quarter, allowing St. Louis just one series where the Rams went three-and-out. Eddie George had a night's worth of work as he carried 15 times for 69 yards in two series that lasted 12 and 13 plays.

McNair looked almost as sharp early. He completed six straight passes at one point to five receivers, including a 5-yard TD toss to Frank Wycheck. But he had trouble connecting with Wycheck, his favorite target the past four seasons, in the second quarter and finished 10-of-18 for 74 yards.

St. Louis, who led the NFL in scoring last season, never got going. The Titans helped, but the Rams stopped themselves with five turnovers, dropped passes and seven penalties. The problems started on the first play when Kurt Warner was sacked, and he missed Az-zahir Hakim on his only pass attempt as he played one series with a tight shoulder.

Hakim separated his shoulder, and Martz said he likely would miss the rest of the preseason.

Trent Green didn't fare much better as the Titans played their first-team defense the entire first half. Martz tried to protect Green and his surgically repaired knee by keeping his first-team offensive line in front of him, but Green tripped coming away from the center once and was sacked twice.

Green played the first series of the third quarter protected by the first-teamers for all the good it did. He was sacked by Titans cornerback Ty Howard at the St. Louis 1 and left the game after that. He connected on 5 of 12 passes for 68 yards.

Joe Germaine's debut was even worse. Justin Watson fumbled the ball away on his first play.

"There's no excuse for the way we played," Warner said.

Left tackle Orlando Pace called the loss a wakeup for the Rams.

"You've got to go out and play football every Sunday," he said.

The Titans didn't pass up the chance to pour it on the Rams. Tennessee led 13-3 when O'Donnell came into the game in the third quarter, and he needed only three plays before finding a wide-open Erron Kinney in the end zone for a 25-yard TD.

He later added a 24-yard TD toss to Chris Sanders with 11:20 left in the fourth quarter, and Al Del Greco added field goals of 35, 42 and 25 yards.