Titans Seek First Win; Patriots Want Consistency

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are trying to overcome their inconsistency. For the Tennessee Titans, a little inconsistency would be welcome.

The Titans have done nothing but lose all season.

At 0-5, they already have two more losses than all of last year when their 13-3 record was the NFL's best. And they've lost their last two games by 20 and 22 points. But coach Jeff Fisher is sticking with Kerry Collins, who has two more interceptions than touchdown passes.

Fisher also hopes an injury-plagued secondary can stop the Patriots (3-2) and Tom Brady on Sunday rather than allow the quarterback to jumpstart his mediocre season following his return from a knee injury that limited him to one quarter last year.

"If I'm outside looking in on our team right now and the status of our secondary, I'd open the game with a five wide receiver offense this week and say, 'Let's see you stop us," Fisher said. "Obviously, we have some work to do."

Three defensive backs are hurt -- Nick Harper with a broken right arm, Michael Griffin with a neck injury and Cortland Finnegan with a right hamstring injury. Backup safety Vincent Fuller also has a broken right arm. Some, if not all, of them are expected to miss the game.

Defensive end Jevon Kearse, a three-time Pro Bowl player, was healthy but inactive in last Sunday's 31-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts after getting off to a slow start this season.

The Titans didn't sack Peyton Manning, but William Hayes, Kearse's replacement, could get his second NFL start when he faces Brady.

"It's very important to get after him," Hayes said. "We definitely need to get some knockdowns and shake him up a little."

The Patriots are far from the dominant team that won its first 18 games in 2007 before losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. They're coming off a 20-17 overtime loss at Denver in which they didn't score in the second half.

"We've done it in spurts at times and at other times we haven't," Brady said. "When you play like that, there's a reason why you end up at 3-2 at this time, and we're trying to make these improvements."

Tennessee's defense has allowed the second-most yards passing in the NFL. It's offense has produced just one touchdown on the ground in the last 10 quarters, yet Fisher isn't ready to switch to Vince Young at quarterback.

Still, Patriots coach Bill Belichick called the Titans "a real good team" and isn't worried that his players will take the game too lightly.

"I would just turn on the projector," Belichick said. "I think anybody that would say that about the Titans obviously hasn't seen them play. I don't know how you could watch them on film and possibly think that, unless you were sleeping while the film was rolling."

Apparently, his players stayed awake.

"They're way better than 0-5," nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. "This was a playoff team last year. This was one of the toughest teams in the league last year. Most of the guys came back. ... We have to look past the 0-5 and actually like at what they're doing on film."

That viewing would show mistake-filled 3-point losses to Pittsburgh and Houston, four turnovers in a loss to the New York Jets, a 30-3 deficit in the third quarter at Jacksonville and a 309-yard passing performance by Manning last Sunday, when the Titans never got inside the Colts 20-yard line.

They'd also see Tennessee's brightest hope for its first victory -- running back Chris Johnson.

"You can't catch him from behind. That is where he is so dangerous," Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo said. "If you don't get him at the point of attack, it is going to be a long day for any defense."

In the second game of the season, Johnson scored on runs of 57 and 91 yards and a pass play of 69 yards. He totaled 197 yards rushing and nine receptions, but the Titans lost 34-31 to the Texans.

"In the past games, we were running the ball well, but we had to go to the passing game because we fell behind," Johnson said. "If we can ... stay even, stay close or stay ahead in the game, we'll just continue to run the ball. If we can do that, we can win."

If they don't, the outside criticism will continue.

"You start off 0-5, they're not exactly going to be throwing roses your way," Collins said. "I don't see guys throwing in the towel and saying this is a done deal."

But the Titans can't afford many more losses if they're to reach the playoffs.

"This team believes they're a good football team," Fisher said. "We just haven't played well together, as of yet, well enough to win a game. Certainly, a win against anybody right now would be good for us."

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