The St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans
experienced the brightest lights possible during the Super Bowl
But playing tonight is different.
When the teams hit the field at Adelphia Coliseum tonight for an exhibition rematch of one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever, it will be the first such appearance in years for either franchise and the first since both teams switched cities.
“This is a new experience for everybody,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “It’s a good warmup for the regular season. They’ll get a feel for the emotions and electricity and all those kinds of things that take place tonight.”
The Titans were still the Houston Oilers when Fisher coached his first game as an interim coach in November 1994 only to lose to the New York Giants. The Rams also lost, to the San Francisco 49ers, in 1991 while still in California.
The exhibition also will provide a dry run for both teams since Tennessee has three Monday night appearances scheduled this year, compared to two for St. Louis.
“And there’s no better team to kick it off against than the Rams,” Titans safety Marcus Robertson said.
St. Louis coach Mike Martz downplayed the rematch.
“This is another preseason game. It’s two really good football teams. That’s the point. Last year has nothing to do with this right now,” he said.
Not everyone agrees. Neil O’Donnell, the Titans backup quarterback, played on Monday night three times during his last season with Pittsburgh in 1995.
“Once the lights come on and the cameras, there’s not a better place to be than out there on Monday night,” O’Donnell said.
Players Grew Up Watching MNF
Titans tackle John Thornton grew up in Philadelphia watching football on Monday nights. The defensive tackle will have lots of relatives in the stadium with other friends watching on television.
“You always want to play well because everyone watches Monday Night Football at least for a little while to see the game. We definitely want to come out and play better,” he said.
It may be a Monday night, but the football will remain strictly exhibition.
Fisher plans to play most of his starters for the first half before turning to the backups. That is a switch from his usual routine because the Titans travel to Philadelphia for another exhibition Friday night.
Martz will try to provide a challenge, but he is more concerned about protecting Kurt Warner, Isaac Bruce and Marshall Faulk. Even backup quarterback Trent Green will be pulled if the Rams go too deep into their bench.
“I don’t want to expose him to a group where there might be some protection snafus and end up taking a shot at him with the risk of losing him,” Martz said.
The Rams’ offense doesn’t seem to have missed a beat since winning the Super Bowl 23-16. St. Louis won its opener 31-17 over Oakland and scored on the first three series. Fisher expects more of the same, so the Titans will have a couple of defensive schemes ready to try out against the champions.
“I’m sure they’re looking forward to it maybe more than we are,” offensive guard Adam Timmerman said.
“So we’ve got to be ready. When you’re the team that got beat, I’ve been on the other side, and you definitely have to be ready. The guys up front are definitely going to be juiced up so you’ve got to look out.”