NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Titans aren’t celebrating their perfect — and historic — start.
Not in September.
“We still have a chance to go 4-12,” Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said.
Rookie Chris Johnson scored two touchdowns and the defense forced four turnovers that the Titans turned into 21 points as Tennessee beat the Minnesota Vikings 30-17 Sunday. The Titans improved to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Not even dating back to their AFL start in Houston as the Oilers had this team started a season by winning more than three straight. But in their 10th season as the relocated Titans, they have won an NFL-best seven straight regular-season games and had the crowd chanting “4-and-0” as the final seconds ticked off.
Cornerback Nick Harper helped seal the victory with an interception and said the Titans know they can play better still.
“We don’t feel like we’re there yet. We feel like we haven’t played a complete game yet. ... We just feel like we’re struggling. Even though we’re struggling, we know we’re struggling in the right direction,” Harper said.
Minnesota (1-3), which came in hoping to start its own winning streak, outgained Tennessee 333-275. The Titans had allowed an NFL-fewest 29 points but gave up a season-high 17 to the Vikings.
But the Titans also came up with four sacks to go with the turnovers.
“Obviously, we have to do a better job of taking care of the football,” Minnesota coach Brad Childress said. “When you spot somebody 21 points on turnovers those are pivotal things. Turnovers is the No. 1 statistic in this business. It’s disappointing.”
Albert Haynesworth sacked Frerotte twice, and Nick Harper intercepted a Frerotte pass with 3:46 left after the Vikings pulled to 23-17 on Peterson’s second touchdown run. Frerotte hurt his hand on that play and left the game.
Johnson then scored his second TD on a 6-yard run, and the Titans sacked Tarvaris Jackson twice to seal the victory.
Frerotte made it interesting as he drove the Vikings downfield to set up Peterson’s second TD. He drew an unnecessary roughness penalty on Titans end Kyle Vanden Bosch after overthrowing on third-and-goal, which the quarterback called a direct shot.
“To just spear somebody like that is pretty ridiculous,” Frerotte said.
Vanden Bosch denied he hit Frerotte anywhere except the thigh.
“That’s where the rule book tells me to hit the quarterback,” Vanden Bosch said.
Peterson scored on the next play to pull Minnesota to 23-17 with 6 minutes left.
The Titans, who gained only 70 yards in the second half, stalled again. Their punt was downed at the 2, forcing Frerotte to throw from his end zone. Harper picked him off on third down to set up Johnson’s 6-yard TD run.
Peterson finished with 80 yards on 18 carries after coming into the game ranked second in the NFL with 340 yards.
Minnesota got five sacks in last week’s victory over Carolina. The Vikings hit Collins but never sacked him as the 14-year veteran completed passes to six different Titans for 199 yards.
The Titans opened the game by scoring on their first drive and never trailed after dominating most of the first quarter. They outgained Minnesota 102-9.
Johnson ran in for a 1-yard TD that was his first score rushing to make it 10-0 in the first quarter. LenDale White also ran in from a yard, giving him a touchdown run in four straight games. Rob Bironas added field goals of 20, 32 and 49 yards.
Peterson broke loose for a 28-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the second quarter to pull the Vikings to 10-7. That was as close as they would get. Ryan Longwell had a chance at a 48-yarder just before halftime that clanked off the right upright.
Notes: With the win, Fisher improved to 124-104 as a head coach and tied George Seifert in career wins for 25th in NFL history. ... The Titans had not beaten Minnesota since 1992, losing their last four. ... The Titans have won four games in September for only the second time in club history, the first since being 4-1 in September 1979. ... Tennessee now is 17-4 when scoring at least 20 points since 2006. ... Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson hurt his left foot in the second quarter but returned and finished the game.
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