Offense: Justin McCareins
Filling in for Justin Gage, Tennessee’s leading receiver last season, Justin McCareins played the part of the Titans primary receiver very well. McCareins’ 90 yards receiving accounted for over a quarter of the Titans offensive production, and if you take away his 4-yard reception (resulting in a fumble we’ll forget about) he averaged 29 yards per catch. Looking at his lack of a score would ignore the fact that his last two receptions set up LenDale White’s second TD run and Rob Bironas’ sole field goal. McCareins was targeted nine times in the game, most on the team, and garnered enough attention to free up other receivers. Keep in mind that all of this damage was done in the first three quarters as Tennessee had exactly zero passing attempts in the 4th quarter. McCareins was able to create more separation than we’ve seen from any Titans receiver this season, including the pre-season, and showed glimpses of being the deep threat he was for the Titans during Steve McNair’s MVP season.
Honorable Mention: The Titans Offensive Line. Kerry Collins had enough time to operate in the pocket yesterday to get bored. No offense to Kerry Collins’ mobility (which whatever amount exists was actually shown to be quite effective), but it is rare that a pocket passer of his “maturation” is able to go an entire game without so little as a hint of pass rush to speak of. The O-Line also gave LenDale White room to run in his two goal-line touchdowns.
Defense: Cortland Finnegan.
If you’re reading this then you certainly know his name, but there are still plenty of casual NFL fans who are not quite as familiar. They will be soon. Most people will probably take his 99 yard pick six away from this game, which to say the least was nice, but Finnegan continues to be all over the field. For the second consecutive week Finnegan limited the opposing teams’ number one receiver to less than 40 yards and no scores, shutting down the much larger Andre Johnson. Finnegan defends passes, plays the run game and so far seemingly always knows where to be. In a game where the defense continued to excel, Finnegan stood out once again. Maybe it’s time to see if he can return kicks too.
Honorable Mention: Michael Griffin. The second year safety out of Texas has continued to build on last year’s promising start, intercepting two passes (the first of which was the most acrobatic play of the game), bringing his season total to three. Griffin’s play so far is a big reason that the secondary is continuing to establish itself as one of the best young groups in the league.