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NFL: WEEK 12 : ON THE NFL

Down go the Titans, at home

They lose their first of season as Jets' Favre shines. Detroit, Miami and Denver also fall to visiting opponents.

November 24, 2008|SAM FARMER | Farmer is a Times staff writer.

You can go home again.

But, honestly, who'd want to?

In the NFL, home is where the hard is. That was the story Sunday, anyway, as team after team proved that playing at home isn't necessarily an advantage.

It was at home where the Tennessee Titans were handed their first defeat of the season, losing to the New York Jets. Yes, it was the 101st consecutive sellout in Nashville, and the crowd was amped. Didn't matter.

"We've been down here the last three years. It's loud, and it's always been a tough place to play," said Jets Coach Eric Mangini.

Oh, don't patronize us. Your team won, 34-13.

The winless Detroit Lions were at home, when for the third time in four weeks they squandered a double-digit lead to lose.

It was on the road at Miami that New England's Matt Cassel threw for 415 yards in a 48-28 thrashing of the Dolphins. Cassel has thrown for 400 yards in consecutive games, doubling Tom Brady's career total.

It's one thing to see the Patriots win on the road. It's another to see Oakland win at Denver, which they did in a 31-10 rout. So Coach Tom Cable's Raiders scored as many points Sunday as they did in the previous four games combined.

After weeks of close games, Week 12 featured a bushel of blowouts. Heading into the night game between Indianapolis and San Diego, the average margin of victory Sunday was 16.6 points -- which, in NFL terms, is as toothpick-thin as, well, a 400-pound defensive tackle.

Visiting teams won 11 of 14 games Sunday.

Baltimore won at home, but all eyes were on the visitors' sideline. That's where Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb was bundled against the cold. After committing three turnovers in the first half, he was benched for the first time in his career. He was on the road a week earlier too, when he admitted after a 13-13 tie with Cincinnati that he didn't know games could end deadlocked.

Now, he gets to go back to Philadelphia. Hooray.

McNabb is in his 10th season. Cleveland's Brady Quinn barely made it through 10 quarters before he was benched. The Browns pulled him Sunday in the third quarter of his third career start. He had no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 16-6 home loss to Houston, although he did have a legitimate excuse: a broken index finger on his throwing hand.

Less than 200 miles away, the Lions were doing some quarterback shuffling of their own. They started with Daunte Culpepper, switched to Drew Stanton, then went back to Culpepper after Stanton suffered a concussion.

If Detroit made cars the way it makes football teams, those jalopies would zoom halfway down the block, screech to a halt, then high-tail it in reverse. The Lions built a 17-0 lead over Tampa Bay in the first quarter . . . and were outscored, 38-3, in the next three.

So at least one pilgrimage to perfection is intact. The Lions are five losses away from becoming the first team to go 0-16, which would eclipse the 0-14 mark of the 1976 Buccaneers.

The Titans, meanwhile, fell short of matching New England's 16-0 masterpiece of last season. And it wasn't close. The Jets forced punts on Tennessee's first five possessions and never trailed, ending at 13 games a winning streak in the regular season that dated to last Dec. 16.

Tennessee's defense has been its strength this season, and the home crowd got a good long look at it. The Titans' defense was on the field for more than 40 minutes, as Brett Favre marched the Jets up, down and all around.

"It felt like we were on the sideline forever just watching Brett Favre play," Titans fullback Ahmard Hall said. "The defense, I felt bad that we on offense couldn't get anything going and keep them off the field."

That's the thing about guests. Once they get comfortable, they never want to leave.

--

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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