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Titans come back to earth


Last week the Tennessee Titans were riding a high, coming off a victory over a tough Eagles team, and comparisons were made to the dominant Titans teams of 1999 and 2000. This week the Titans are fielding questions about a loss to the Quincy Carter-led Dallas Cowboys, missed opportunities and the health of running back Eddie George.

The Titans took a first-quarter lead Sunday when Steve McNair found tight end Frank Wycheck from a yard out. Tennessee was able to take a 10-7 lead into the half, but the damage may have been done in the second quarter when Dallas linebacker Dexter Coakley pushed McNair out of bounds and into an equipment trunk behind the Dallas bench. McNair suffered a minor concussion, but missed just three plays. Statistically, however, he was not the same upon his return, completing just 12 of 29 second-half passes.

Late in the third quarter, McNair was hit by Cowboys safety Darren Woodson as McNair was throwing the ball, and Coakley stung McNair again by intercepting the pass and taking it 52 yards for a touchdown.

The Titans had two opportunities with the ball late in the game trailing 21-13, but failed to score.

The news hasn't gotten any better for the Titans following the loss. Shortly after their return to Nashville, Eddie George paid a visit to the emergency room to have his left foot examined. George played the entire game but complained of soreness afterward. While an MRI showed no structural damage, George continued to be hampered by the injury in the days following the loss.

''He is really sore. He is on crutches and he is still in the boot,'' Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.

George has never missed a game, but he is listed as questionable for Sunday's home game against the Browns.

Indianapolis Colts

The Miami Dolphins scored touchdowns on their first two possessions en route to putting the Indianapolis Colts in a 21-3 first-half hole.

"They went down the field three times and scored three touchdowns," Colts coach Tony Dungy said after the game. "We went down the field three times and scored one field goal."

Indianapolis would come back, however. A fourth-quarter Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison touchdown pass helped draw the Colts to within eight points. With two seconds remaining, Peyton Manning and the offense had the ball at the two and clung to hope for overtime. Dolphins safety Brock Marion, however, dashed the Colts' hopes when he batted Manning's pass for Qadry Ismail to the ground.

Running back Edgerrin James continued to look strong in his return from an ACL tear, picking up 138 yards on 30 carries.

Despite the loss, Dungy's group may be in the best position to make a move for the division lead in the next three weeks. After a trip to Houston to play the Texans this Sunday, the Colts welcome the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens to Indianapolis.

Houston Texans

Junior Seau, Curtis Conway and the San Diego Chargers brought the Houston Texans back to reality Sunday, handing the expansion franchise its first loss, 24-3.

Seau intercepted a David Carr pass in the first quarter and returned it to the six-yard line to set up a three-yard reverse for a touchdown by Conway.

Despite the loss, the Texans drew praise from Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer.

"That Houston defense, I've been around this business awhile and that is a fine, fine defensive football team," Schottenheimer said after the game. "They have the young quarterback and he's going to make mistakes maybe now and then. What they've done in a short period of time with that organization is remarkable."

While he may have drawn compliments from Schottenheimer, Carr had a rough outing, to say the least. He completed just six of 25 passes for 87 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble that was recovered in the end zone for the Chargers' final touchdown. He was also sacked nine times.

The Texans will try to get the offense back on track when they return home to face AFC South rival Indianapolis.

Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Tennessee are all tied for the division lead at 1-1.

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