Adding some needed intrigue to this matchup is the quest of the Titans’ Chris Johnson to join Jamal Lewis (2,066 yards in 2003), Terrell Davis (2,008 in 1998), Barry Sanders (2,053 in 1997), Eric Dickerson (a league-record 2,105 in 1984) and O.J. Simpson (2,003 in 1973) as the only backs in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in one season.
Johnson needs 128 yards to do it, and he has averaged 124.8 in compiling his league-leading total of 1,872. Titans coach Jeff Fisher has turned this into an offensive achievement, while Johnson’s teammates have made it an entire-team goal.
“First off, these goals that people are talking about are team goals. They’re not individual goals,” Fisher said. “Without the offense, C.J. wouldn’t be where he’s at. There are some things the team would like to achieve, and the defense is rooting the offense on.”
Offered tight end Bo Scaife, “Everyone is committed to doing everything they can to help C.J. get 2,000.”
The Seahawks, of course, are determined to not let it happen. As linebacker Leroy Hill put it, “That’s the motto – ‘Not in our house.’ He has been ripping the league all year. We’re going to do our best to stop him, obviously.”
One thing that would help is for the Seahawks to take a lead by putting points on the board early. Or period, the way the offense has struggled while scoring only one touchdown in each of the past three games – all losses. The Seahawks have scored only 37 points in the first quarter all season; none during their current three-game skid.
To score early, they will have to avoid turnovers – starting with Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks’ QB has nine turnovers in the past two games – four interceptions against the Packers in Green Bay last week, four more picks and a fumble the week before against the Buccaneers at Qwest.
“I do think about it – or did think about it,” said Hasselbeck, who will be presented the Steve Largent Award in a pregame ceremony. “It’s something I’m definitely focused on – not dwelling on, but focused on, aware of. I know why. I look at the turnovers all separately. As a quarterback, there’s a fine line between cutting it loose, making plays and also being careless or forcing things and being desperate with the ball.”
Hasselbeck snapping out of his uncharacteristic funk plays into the Seahawks’ motivation: Getting a win, to end this disappointing season with a needed pinch of the positive; but also to avoid losing their last four games of the season for the first time since 1992.
The Titans also have another goal: Becoming the first team to finish .500 after starting 0-6.
“First and foremost, we’re going to try and win the football game – as the Seahawks are,” Fisher said. “These types of things are more easily said than done. This is going to be a difficult effort for our football team. And I’m talking about just trying to win the game, let alone achieve some of these milestones for our offense.”
It is against this backdrop of trying to achieve – as well as sidestep – the historic that the Seahawks and Titans are about to play what some will try and label a “meaningless” game.
We’ll be back later with the inactives – for the final time this season.