Titans to Challenge NFL's Top-Rated Defense Sunday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rex Ryan's brash and charismatic attitude is certainly making an instant impact on the New York Jets, especially the now-stifling defense.

The unbeaten Jets look for another dominating performance from the NFL's top-rated defense Sunday when they host the winless Tennessee Titans.

New York (2-0) hired Ryan in January after he spent 10 years on Baltimore's staff, helping create one of the most ferocious and mouthy defenses in the NFL. He's brought that philosophy, including the boisterous charm, to the Jets and it's paying off in a big way.

They have the stingiest defense in the league, allowing 482 yards while not giving up a touchdown from scrimmage in back-to-back games for the first time since doing it in three straight in 1993. The only TD New York has given up came on a fumble return in a 24-7 season-opening win at Houston.

Last season, the defense ranked 28th against the pass and gave up an average of 329.4 total yards to rank 16th overall.

The Jets proved they can back up their trash talk last Sunday, upsetting New England 16-9. The defense held the Patriots to 254 yards and totaled 23 hits and pressures on quarterback Tom Brady. That impressive performance came after safety Kerry Rhodes claimed New York would "embarrass" its AFC East rival.

"Sometimes we talk a little bit," Ryan said, "but only because we have confidence in our football team. What we're trying to have here, to 'play like a Jet,' well, it's going to mean something."

The defense is performing without perhaps its best pass rusher in Calvin Pace, suspended the first four games for violating the league's performance-enhancing substance abuse policy.

"This is one of the more talented defenses I've played on, just across the board," said cornerback Lito Sheppard, who joined the Jets after seven seasons with Philadelphia. "It seems that everybody's doing their job and doing it well. When plays are presented for guys to make, we've been making them right now. I think that's the biggest change for me from any defense I've been on."

New York is in position to open a season with three wins in a row for the first time since starting 5-0 in 2004, the last year it won a playoff game.

While the defense is getting much of the attention, quarterback Mark Sanchez has led an effective offense.

Sanchez, the fifth overall selection in April's draft, has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 435 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

He's been sacked just twice and now faces a Titans defense which had no sacks last week and is ranked last in the NFL against the pass, giving up 678 of the team's 777 yards allowed.

Last year, the Jets followed a win over the Patriots with a 34-13 victory at Tennessee (0-2) on Nov. 23, ending the Titans' season-opening 10-game winning streak and improving to 8-3 to garner Super Bowl talk. New York, however, faltered down the stretch with a banged-up Brett Favre, losing four of its last five to miss the playoffs.

"This is a new beginning," linebacker Bart Scott said. "I don't pay attention to the past. The past is the past. It's a new day. It's a new team. It's not the same old Jets people are used to."

The Titans also are off to a surprising start, losing their first two games by three-point margins. They haven't opened 0-3 since losing their first five of 2006.

Tennessee opened with an overtime loss at Pittsburgh before blowing a 14-point lead last Sunday and falling 34-31 to Houston on a field goal with 2:55 to play.

"I don't think anybody expected us to be 0-2," defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "The perception was we were a good team, a veteran team, and we felt good about where we were at. But the reality is we are 0-2, and we've got to fight our way out of this thing."

The Titans offense has generated 786 yards through two games with second-year running back Chris Johnson accounting for 352.

All three of his touchdowns last week -- two rushing -- went for more than 50 yards. He ran for a career-high 197 yards on 16 carries and caught nine passes for 87.

Quarterback Kerry Collins has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 460 yards with three touchdowns, but he also has three turnovers after committing just eight all of last season.

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