Titans coach Jeff Fisher had to be convinced the video board at Cowboys Stadium wasn’t too low. After his then-rookie punter, A.J. Trapasso, hit the HD board with a punt in the first preseason game at the new stadium in 2009, Fisher predicted “it is not a one-time occurrence.” It has been, though, as no other punter has hit the video board, which is 90 feet above the playing field. It might be the only time an opposing coach or player has had a disparaging word about the $1.2 billion stadium.
Keys for the Cowboys
• Felix Jones won’t start at running back, but the Cowboys will try to get him the ball more than they have so far. The Cowboys replaced Jones as their primary kick returner this season, with plans to give him a bigger role in the offense. So far, that hasn’t happened. Jones, who averaged 10.3 touches per game last season, including kickoffs, has not had more than 10 touches this season. He has 22 carries for 88 yards and four catches for 38 yards. Owner Jerry Jones, though, said this week that Felix Jones will be a bigger part of the offense beginning this week.
• Houston’s Arian Foster rushed for 106 yards on 17 carries against the Cowboys two weeks ago. Foster was the first back to rush for 100 yards against the Cowboys since Baltimore’s Willis McGahee and La’Ron McClain each topped the century mark in the final game at Texas Stadium in 2008, a span of 19 games. The Cowboys face Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson, generally regarded as the league’s best backs, in the next two weeks.
Keys for the Titans
• Johnson, whom the Cowboys passed on to take Jones in 2008, established a goal of 2,500 rushing yards this season. He has only 354 yards on 94 carries after four games, prompting him to apologize to his fans via Twitter. The Titans are seeing eight- and nine-man fronts, designed to stop Johnson, and both the Steelers and the Broncos held him under 100 yards. In Tennessee’s two victories, Johnson has 59 carries for 267 yards and four touchdowns. In their two losses, he has 35 carries for 87 yards and no touchdowns with two lost fumbles.
• The Titans, particularly cornerback Cortland Finnegan, are earning a reputation. The Titans’ 37 penalties are tied for the most in the league and includes a league-high six personal fouls. Finnegan has $10,000 in fines. After the Titans racked up 10 penalties for 111 yards in a loss to the Broncos last week, Denver coach Josh McDaniels and quarterback Kyle Orton accused the Titans of taking “cheap shots.” Fisher, the co-chairman of the competition committee, has had to defend his team this week, saying they play aggressive but not dirty on defense.
The Cowboys are coming off their bye week. They have won their past five games the week following a bye, including a 45–14 victory over the Titans in 2006. They are refreshed, recharged and as healthy as they will be the rest of the season. Cowboys 21–20.