With 2-1 start, Titans eager to clean up penalties

By TERESA M. WALKER - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-23 16:48

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Coach Mike Munchak sees plenty for his Tennessee Titans to clean up. Making those adjustments is a lot easier coming off a victory.

The Titans now are 2-1 despite racking up 10 penalties for 110 yards in the first half of their 20-17 win over San Diego. Munchak said Monday they might have had a comfortable lead instead of needing to drive 94 yards for the winning touchdown if not for all the penalties.

``We're going to harp on them, we're going to talk about them, we're going to learn from them, we're going to learn how to be smarter,'' Munchak said. ``We've got to do all those things for sure because you can't have those kind of penalties and win many games ... We're not going to make excuses for them.''

The Titans did clean up their play with officials flagging them only once in the second half. But Tennessee has been penalized 20 times for 186 yards over the past two games. Munchak said a couple flags against San Diego were very questionable, including some the Titans didn't get called against the Chargers.

Rookie Justin Hunter might have had his first career catch and touchdown in the first half if not for interference from Eric Weddle that drew no flag in the end zone. Munchak wants his Titans not worrying about the officials.

``We have to go out there and play smart,'' Munchak said.

That might be easier said than done for receiver Kenny Britt. The receiver so frustrated at criticism that he shared his thoughts on Twitter last week remains mired in a slump that only got worse against San Diego. Britt had a couple drops, two more penalties and wasn't even on the field for the game-winning drive.

Munchak defended Britt over a block in the back on a defender when teammate Kendall Wright changed direction on a 25-yard catch. The coach said Britt has to work his way through everything.

``He's like anybody else,'' Munchak said of Britt. ``We need him to continue to play better just like as an offense we have to play better. Ten points going through four quarters isn't enough to win football games in this league. We have to improve in a lot of ways, it's not just Kenny.''

Still, the Titans like what they see with the New York Jets (2-1) visiting Sunday for the second in a three-game home stand.

They are only the fifth team in the Super Bowl era not to turn the ball over even once during the first three games of the season. The Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) became the fourth last week and visit the Titans on Oct. 6 to wrap up this home stand. The Titans are plus-5 in the takeaway-giveaway category, fourth in the NFL.

Bernard Pollard blocked a field goal, the defense smothered the Chargers enough to hold Philip Rivers to 184 yards passing.

The best part of the game for Tennessee was the 94-yard drive with no timeouts.

The Titans ran the ball so much through the first two games it looked like they were trying to protect Jake Locker. But the quarterback came through in his 14th start, completing 7 of 10 for 94 yards on the drive with completions to six different receivers before connecting with Justin Hunter on a 34-yard TD pass with 15 seconds left.

Locker finished with 299 yards passing, and he ran for 68 yards and another TD. Munchak said he was proud of how Locker played.

Tight end Delanie Walker said they know can be better offensively and not need such a late drive. The Titans settled for three field goals, missing one, from the San Diego 25 and closer.

``It's just mental mistakes,'' Walker said. ``It's all of us, all 11 people on the field. We got to cancel our mental mistakes and penalties. We're shooting ourselves in the foot most of the time.''

Notes: Walker had a walking boot on his left foot for what Munchak called a toe issue, and the tight end had an MRI. But he said he will be fine. ... RB Shonn Greene, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee a week ago, said he will not play against his former team the Jets.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org


Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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