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Ridiculed Titans rebound, whip Dolphins, 37-3

The SportsXchange

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Tennessee Titans apparently don't mind being closely evaluated.

Put on notice by owner Bud Adams after last week's blowout loss to the Bears, the Tennessee Titans responded with a 37-3 dismantling of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

It was the Dolphins' worst home loss since 1968 -- two seasons before Don Shula's arrival -- and their worst loss anywhere since a 62-7 playoff defeat at Jacksonville in the final game of Dan Marino's career (January 2000). It was Miami's worst regular season loss since a 41-0 drilling at Indianapolis in 1997.

"I think we played well as a team," said Titans linebacker Colin McCarthy. "We got off the field early in the game as a defense, made plays when we needed to and kind of took the wind out of them early."

The Titans stopped a two-game losing streak to improve to 4-6.

The Dolphins dropped to 4-5 and have lost two straight going into a Thursday night game at Buffalo.

Chris Johnson had 126 yards on 23 carries for the Titans. That ended a 22-game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher by the Dolphins defense.

The visitors built a 21-0 lead and went up 24-3 at halftime thanks to a litany of Dolphins mistakes.

Those included a pair of interceptions by Ryan Tannehill, including one that McCarthy returned 49 yards for a touchdown. That marked the second pick-six against Tannehill in his pro career; the other came in Week 3 by the Jets' LaRon Landry.

Tannehill, the rookie quarterback out of Texas A&M, entered having gone four games without an interception, including an injury-shortened appearance at the Jets two weeks ago. The rookie's last interception before Sunday came in overtime on Sept. 30 at Arizona.

That streak ended after 107 attempts on McCarthy's second-quarter return down the left sideline. Strong-side linebacker Akeem Ayers deflected Tannehill's short pass attempt on the third-and-1 play.

Ayers grabbed Tannehill's other first-half interception -- on a pass intended for Anthony Fasano over the middle -- to set up Rob Bironas' 37-yard field goal just before halftime.

Asked what one thing he hoped Tannehilll would take away from this game, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin rolled his eyes.

"Don't throw it to the other team?" Philbin said. "Hate to be a smart aleck, but ... "

The Titans jumped on top with a gift touchdown midway through the first quarter. Reggie Bush's second lost fumble of the season left the Titans with just 28 yards to cover, which they did in four plays.

Jake Locker hit Kendall Wright for a 9-yard touchdown on a slant in front of Dolphins cornerback Jimmy Wilson to make it 7-0.

Bush did not return to the field for the rest of the half and no injury announcement was made. He finished with four carries for just 21 yards after returning to the lineup to start the second half.

"You get a chance as a defensive back to get that ball out, you got to go for it," Titans cornerback Jason McCourty said after forcing the fumble. "That was a huge shift because we were able to put seven on the board."

Johnson added a 17-yard scoring run late in the first quarter.

Dan Carpenter's 40-yard field goal gave the Dolphins their only first-half points, and even that required some luck. Carpenter appeared to miss his first attempt from that distance but the Dolphins called timeout just before the snap.

The Titans basically put the game out of reach with a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive to open the second half. Jake Locker capped it with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cook on third and 15.

"We're not going in the tank," Dolphins left guard Richie Incognito said. "We just made too many penalties, too many turnovers, too many mistakes in general to win today."

Notes: Dolphins tight end Michael Egnew, a third-round pick, was inactive for the ninth time in nine weeks despite the fact a hamstring injury also sidelined backup tight end Jeron Mastrud. ... Walt Anderson replaced Scott Green as the referee in the days leading up to the game. ... Davone Bess moved past Irving Fryar into 10th place all-time with 3,205 receiving yards. He's within 150 yards of eight place (Paul Warfield).
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