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The Tennessee Titans head into Sunday's road game at Cincinnati needing to rebound from a miserable showing in the home opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
There were a few things that were encouraging - four sacks against Tony Romo, tight end Delanie Walker's 10-catch game - but for the most part, it was a day the Titans would just as soon put behind them.
Tennessee will have to do a better job of stopping the run then they did last week, when Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray torched them for 167 yards and a touchdown. And the Bengals' duo of Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill will be an imposing tandem for the Titans to try and stop on Sunday.
Even though the Bengals have impressive numbers in the passing game, having not surrendered either a sack or a turnover in the first two games, it is the running game that the Titans are focused on stopping first and foremost, they say - especially after last Sunday's embarrassing effort.
"They're a pretty sound offense with the way they run it. It's going to be a challenge, but that's a challenge we're ready to take on," linebacker Derrick Morgan said. "The first thing we've got to do is stop the run to even get them in passing situations. They do a lot of different looks, but we've got to stop the run to have a chance to get them in passing situations."
When the Titans have been able to get teams into passing situations, they have been relatively effective. Tennessee has recorded eight sacks on the season thus far, getting to Alex Smith four times in the opener and sacking Romo four times last Sunday.
Veteran linebacker Shaun Phillips agreed that stopping the running game is the Titans' priority even more than trying to slow down Andy Dalton and the Bengals' passing game, which may or may not feature wide receiver A.J. Green, who is battling turf toe.
"We've got some guys that pride themselves on pass rushing and getting after the quarterback, but we can't worry about that right now. We didn't stop the run so well last week, so we want to stop the run. We understand that rushing the quarterback is a privilege, so if we want to rush the quarterback, we've got to stop the run," Phillips said.
SERIES HISTORY: 73rd regular-season meeting. Titans lead series 39-32-1. These two old AFC Central rivals have had plenty of meetings over the years, but the rivalry was never as spicy as it was in the 1980s with Sam Wyche guiding the Bengals and Jerry Glanville coaching the Houston Oilers. There was no love lost then either, especially in 1989 when Wyche's Bengals piled up a 61-7 win over Glanville's Oilers.