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Notebook: Titans Turnovers Tilt Scales

Posted Nov 4, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans weren’t surprised the Bears’ defense swatted at the football, but Tennessee failed to protect it multiple times Sunday in a 51-20 loss.

The Titans fumbled the ball six times, losing possession on four of those. Three of the lost fumbles occurred on the first plays of Titans possessions, including the first play of the game, and two occurred inside Tennessee’s own 20-yard line.

“There was no shock that they have gotten a lot of turnovers. That’s how they won football games,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “We knew all that. We carried the ball carelessly and gave the ball up. We made it easy for them, gave them short fields. We put (the defense) in bad field positions.”

Tennessee’s defense neutralized the offense’s first turnover by forcing a punt, but the offensive mistakes accumulated.

Chicago got on the board when Sherrick McManis blocked a punt that Corey Wootton returned five yards for a touchdown with 6:44 left in the first quarter. The Bears forced the punt after consecutive formation penalties by the Titans.

The game got out of hand, however, in the final 3:40 of the first quarter. Chicago scored 21 straight points in a span of 2:07, benefitting from a 44-yard punt return to the Tennessee eight-yard line, a 46-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Brian Urlacher and a fumble by Chris Johnson that it recovered at the Tennessee 16.

Urlacher finished with a forced fumble and fumble recovery to go with his pick six, and Bears cornerback Charles Tillman forced four of the fumbles by punching the broadside of the football before tackling Titans players.

“He just finds a way of getting his hands on the ball and knocking the ball out and always being around the ball,” Johnson said. “I guess you can say he hustles a lot but he does a good job of finding the ball.”

Matt Hasselbeck, who made his fifth consecutive start in place of injured second-year QB Jake Locker, said he didn’t think he had seen the Bears so successful at forcing turnovers in 10 previous games against Chicago.  

JOHNSON ADDS TO RECORD: Johnson notched his fifth career touchdown of 80 yards and second of the season in the second half. Johnson set the NFL record with his fourth career scoring run of that distance at Buffalo earlier this season.

He finished with 16 carries for 141 yards (8.8 yards per carry) but had two fumbles. It was Johnson’s 31st career game with at least 100 rushing yards.

WIMBLEY DRAWS SAFETY: Defensive end Kamerion Wimbley put the Titans on the scoreboard early when he pressured Cutler and drew a hands-to-the-face penalty against J’Marcus Webb in the end zone.

The penalty made the score 7-2 with 4:51 left in the first quarter and included a free kick by the Bears from the Chicago 20 that Darius Reynaud returned 22 yards to the Tennessee 48, but the return was negated by an illegal block penalty that sent the ball back to the 26.

CASEY, BROWN COMBINE TO FORCE TURNOVER: Jurrell Casey recorded a sack fumble against Jay Cutler late in the second quarter. Titans rookie linebacker Zach Brown scooped the ball and returned it six yards, but lost his footing and lateralled the ball to Wimbley, but the exchange wasn’t smooth, and Bears running back Matt Forte caught up with Wimbley at midfield.

The Titans took the ball from there with 1:05 left and were able to get a 39-yard field goal by Rob Bironas as the first half expired.

HASSELBECK MOVES UP TD LIST: Hasselbeck recorded the 201st career touchdown pass on the Titans’ first possession of the second half. Hasselbeck connected with Nate Washington for a 30-yard score on which Washington jumped high and brought in the pass near the left sideline.

Hasselbeck tied Roman Gabriel for 31st NFL’s all-time touchdown pass list.

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