Super Bowl 44  

 

Johnson says Titans emphasized records over win; Fisher disagrees

  • By Andy Fenelon NFL.com
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Chris Johnson might be the fastest player in the NFL, but he had a hard time running away from his coach Wednesday.

The Tennessee Titans' running back was at the Super Bowl XLIV media center accepting the 2009 FedEx Ground Player of the Year award (Drew Brees won the Air portion) when he revealed a rather surprising detail surrounding his team's 17-13 victory at Seattle in the regular-season finale.

"I don't know if he wants me to say this," Johnson began, referring to Titans coach Jeff Fisher, "but the whole game plan was me getting 2,000 yards. He had a meeting with the whole team and he told us that we don't have a chance to make the playoffs, so us winning the game really don't matter. So if it causes us to lose the game to get 2,000 yards, then we'll do that."

FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year
Titans RB Chris Johnson
and Saints QB Drew Brees were selected from a panel of three finalists to be named the 2009 FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players
of the Year. More ...

It's not so surprising that it happened -- Johnson was just 128 yards shy of 2,000 entering the game and the Titans already had been eliminated from playoff contention -- but that he would admit it publicly is.

Shortly after accepting his award, Johnson expounded on the NFL Network set in the middle of Radio Row during an interview with host Rich Eisen, analyst Marshall Faulk and Jim Mora, who was the Seahawks' coach in that Week 17 game.

"On Tuesday when we met (at a team meeting), he (Fisher) wrote down three records and said this is the game plan," Johnson said. "And those three records were his record (pointing to Faulk, the previous yards-from-scrimmage record-holder), Eric Dickerson's record (most yards in a single season) and the first player to rush for 2,000 yards and catch for 500 yards. So that was the game plan against the Seahawks."

Johnson had a 62-yard touchdown run nullified by a penalty early in the fourth quarter. Had that run counted, Johnson would have had an outside chance at Dickerson's mark. At that point, Johnson already had accomplished two-thirds of Fisher's game plan. The only thing left was 2,000 yards, which Johnson reached on his next carry.

"After that," Johnson said, "(the coaches) turned it into, 'Let's win the game.' "

It didn't take Fisher long to set the record straight. Unannounced, he came on the NFL Network set at the tail end of Johnson's interview and started to give his side of the story before he even sat down. It made for a slightly awkward moment for Johnson, who kept nodding in approval of everything Fisher said.

"I told the team the night before that first and foremost we were going to play to win this game," Fisher said. "But hypothetically, if we could get up by 17 points and we were getting close (to the records), I may make some unusual decisions at the end to try and get another possession or two to try to get the yards -- onside kick or fake punt."

Fisher then turned to Johnson, who was seated to the coach's immediate left.

"Remember that meeting?" Fisher asked.

"I remember that," Johnson said smiling.

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