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Titans capitalize on late turnover, upend Rams
St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Johnson's 19-yard touchdown run, which came on the first play following a Kellen Clemens turnover late in the fourth quarter, sent the Tennessee Titans over the St. Louis Rams, 28-21, in Week 9 action.
Johnson finished with a game-high 150 yards and two scores on 23 carries for the Titans (4-4), who snapped a three-game slide.
"We all knew how important this game was for us after losing three tough football games in a row and after starting 3-1," said Titans head coach Mike Munchak. "We had a week off to think about and work on that. We came into a tough place to play and to a team that also needed to win in a bad way. Yes this is a big win for us and we just knew that we need to find a way to win."
Jake Locker was picked off twice, but completed 13-of-22 passes for 185 yards and also ran for a fourth-quarter TD in the victory. Shonn Greene added 38 yards and a first-quarter score on nine totes.
Clemens passed for 210 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-35 efficiency for the Rams (3-6), losers in three straight games.
Despite a questionable status, Zac Stacy paced the St. Louis offense with 127 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 27 attempts. Jared Cook also recorded a TD reception in defeat.
Sunday's setback was Rams head coach Jeff Fisher's first game against the franchise he coached in both Houston and Nashville from 1994-2010.
"We had some opportunities early and didn�t take advantage of them," noted Fisher."They got their running game going and we kind of kept ours going, but the turnover at the end pretty much was the difference in the ball game."
Holding the ball with 6:15 left in regulation in a tie game, Locker found Kendall Wright on a crossing route and the 45-yard gain put the visitors in Rams territory just across midfield. Two plays later, Rodney McLeod picked off a Locker offering and the hosts took over on their own 21.
Four plays after that, Clemens made the game-changing gaffe, coughing up the ball on a sack by Jurrell Casey and Derrick Morgan recovered for Tennessee at the Rams' 19.
"CJ is a special runner and we think we have a good offensive line, but we just weren't having results," Munchak said of the running game's struggles early on. "I am glad it finally happened."
Johnson broke free up the right side on the next play from scrimmage with 2:54 on the clock to give the Titans a 28-21 edge.
Both teams exchanged punts, then a 24-yard return from Tavon Austin gave St. Louis possession on its own 39 with 50 seconds to play. The Rams picked up one first down, but the drive stalled with an incompletion on 4th-and-4 from the Titans' 26.
"We turned it over twice to a good running football team like that that's playing good defense," said Fisher. "It's hard to win. Now granted, we got them, but we didn�t take advantage of them."
Greene capped Tennessee's opening possession -- a 68-yard, 7-play progression -- with a 5-yard TD run.
Stacy ran it in from the three early in the second quarter to even the score for St. Louis.
Cortland Finnegan stepped in front of a Locker pass deep in Titans territory inside the final minute of the half, but the Rams offense sputtered and Greg Zuerlein missed a 44-yard try wide right.
Stacy then broke several tackles en route to a 9-yard run to paydirt with 9:09 left in the third quarter for a 14-7 Rams edge.
Johnson responded on the Titans' next touch, shaking off defenders to post a 14-yard run to knot the score with less than five minutes left in the period.
Locker's 5-yard dash up the middle with 9:42 remaining gave Tennessee a 21-14 advantage.
The Rams struck back, needing just about 3 1/2 minutes to forge another deadlock when Clemens hit Cook in the end zone from 10 yards away.
Tennessee has won three of the last four regular-season meetings with St. Louis since October of 1999 ... Wright finished with 69 yards on three receptions ... Stacy contributed 51 yards on six receptions in the loss ... The Titans clicked on 7-of-12 third downs, collected 22 first downs and racked up 363 yards of total offense ... The last matchup between these clubs was a 47-7 victory for the Titans, which Fisher directed on Dec. 13, 2009.
11/03 19:33:41 ET
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