Defensive Pressure Stymies Campbell, Raiders



The Titans kept Raiders QB Jason Campbell off-balance, sacking him four times in the game.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -** The Titans defense recorded only 31 sacks all last season. On Sunday, the revamped unit sacked Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell four times.

"Last year we didn't get as much pressure as we wanted to and that made it tough on the secondary," said defensive end Jacob Ford. "(On Sunday), I think we did a pretty good job of getting after it."

Tennessee's defense was tied for 18th last season in total sacks, but the defensive front was able to keep Campbell reeling all game. The Titans also batted down three passes including Jason Jones on the Raiders' first offensive play.

"We were just getting off the rock really, getting off the rock and attacking them," Jones said. "We were just taking advantage of some things. We got a lot of pressure on Jason Campbell. We got him moving around and making throws he shouldn't have been making."

Four different Titans recorded sacks on the day, including Witherspoon, Ford, Jason Babin, and rookie Derrick Morgan. All but Ford were added this offseason with Witherspoon and Babin free-agent signees and Morgan their top draft pick.

BRINGING THE NOISE: The Titans started a new initiative this season by raising a flag in the south end zone honoring the fans. The flag, which says "12th Titan," is raised by an honorary fan before each home game. The Titans also had a "Code Blue," where they urge fans to wear as much light blue to the game as possible.

"I think the "Code Blue" thing probably got the crowd going into it early," said Titans safety Michael Griffin. "We have to continue to get them into it. Outside of that, we just continued to feed off of the crowd noise and continued to play."

Coach Jeff Fisher credited the noise for some of the penalties by the Oakland Raiders.

"It starts with them having difficulty hearing, and they had difficulty hearing because of our fans. And they were a huge part in the start of the game," Fisher said.

DANCING TO THE END ZONE: All-Pro running back Chris Johnson may have gotten off to a slow start on Sunday, but with 1:43 to go in the second quarter Johnson hit a hole on the left side and raced 76 yards for his first touchdown of the season.

The run put him over the 100-yard mark for the 12th game in a row. On his way to the end zone, Johnson began strutting around the 10 yard line. He doesn't seem to think that's a problem.

"Nah, I don't feel that," said Johnson. "Probably some of the coaches probably feel that way. But I don't feel that way. I'll be all right."

Johnson finished with 142 yards on 27 carries. It's his 12th straight game with 100 yards or more, breaking a tie with Marcus Allen at 11. Now only Barry Sanders is ahead of Johnson with 14 such games back in 1997.

FAMILY TRIBUTE: Titans linebacker Will Witherspoon really didn't have any time to study up on the defensive game plan. He was too busy most of the week dealing with his mother's unexpected death.

That didn't stop the nine-year veteran from turning in a performance she would have been proud of Sunday as the Titans downed the Oakland Raiders 38-13. Witherspoon had the team's first sack of the season in the first quarter, and he finished with six tackles.

His mother, Nora Lee Cooper Witherspoon, died unexpectedly on Tuesday at the age of 56.

"She was hard on me, tough on me, made sure I did exactly what I needed to do," said Witherspoon, who signed with the Titans as a free agent in March. "At the same time, ... she made sure that I enjoyed life. She also gave me time to make decisions."

After flying out Tuesday afternoon to be with his family, Witherspoon returned around 10 p.m. on Saturday night on team owner Bud Adam's plane.

"The coaching staff sent the day-to-day info to me, but I can't really say I had a lot of time to look at it," said Witherspoon. "The most time I spent kind of going over it was on the plane here and this morning before the game."

The Titans presented Witherspoon with a game ball in the locker room after the victory. Coach Jeff Fisher called the linebacker's play one of the most courageous days he had ever seen from a player.

"To not have practiced all week and to have buried his mom with his family late yesterday and come in last night and play the way he did? My hat is off to Will Witherspoon," Fisher said.

Witherspoon's teammates shared their coach's feelings toward the veteran.

"For him to come in and stay in tune, in the right places for us, making some big plays for us, that type of guy you like that on your team," Vince Young said."

EXTRA POINTS: These two teams played 50 years ago on Sept. 11, 1960, in the AFL's opening weekend. The then-Houston Oilers beat the Raiders 37-22. ... In his past 11 starts, Vince Young is 9-2 and 27-13 for his career. ... Fisher improved to 10-6 on opening weekend. He came into the weekend tied for second among active head coaches with nine wins and remains tied with Tom Coughlin (10-5) and Bill Belichick (10-6). Mike Shanahan went into Sunday night's game with a 12-4 record in openers. ... The Titans now are 4-0 against the Raiders at home on opening weekend dating back to Sept. 1, 1991.

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