If you are expecting the same Tennessee Titans in Sunday’s AFC Title Game at Oakland that showed up for a late September matchup – don’t count on it.
From Tennessee’s perspective, they should hope not. The Raiders dominated Tennessee 52-25 in Week 4 of the regular season. That loss was part of a stretch where the Titans began the season 1-4 but have since righted their ship with 11 wins in their last 12 games, including a 34-31 overtime win over Pittsburgh.
For all the fawning over the New York Jets, who entered Sunday’s 30-10 loss in Oakland winning eight of 10 games, the Titans and Raiders are the NFL’s two hottest clubs. Oakland has won eight of its last nine.
“They’re going to be tough to beat,” Oakland left guard Frank Middleton said. “They’re pissed off that they got a tail whoopin’ the first time. We know it’s going to be a game where we have to play four quarters.”
In that first meeting, Oakland bolted to a 21-0 first quarter lead and was never threatened. The Raiders scored two of those touchdowns of special teams with Phillip Buchanon and Terry Kirby returning punts of 83 and 79 yards respectively. Both individuals are now on injured reserve.
“At that point, everybody agreed we'd love to go back and see them again,'' Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher said. “That was not indicative of the way we really are. But we would relish the opportunity to go back out there.”
Oakland torched Tennessee with its passing attack as quarterback Rich Gannon went 29-of-39 for 381 yards passing and four touchdowns.
“Any time you jump on a team and get a big lead it’s to your advantage,” Raiders head coach Bill Callahan said. “As a coach, you try to get on your opponent but Tennessee is a much different team than the one we faced in Week 4.”
Vince D’Adamo can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com