Games are won in the trenches. Time and time again it has been proven throughout the NFL. It starts from the men up front and has a trickle effect. Those behind the lines who get credit for the play know it best. They are the ones who get the gifts.
While the linemen dig the holes, the skill players reap the rewards.
Throw in a solid game plan by the coordinator and it had all the makings of a blowout.
It all began up front with a much maligned offensive line. It is amazing what time and execution can do.
And it was the playmakers who took special notice of the line after the performance.
"They are growing," said running back LaDainian Tomlinson. "They want to work hard and they want to gel together," Tomlinson said of the O-line. "They haven't worked with each other very long and each week they are getting better and better. They are going to have a chance to be very special for us."
The unit has been together for four games, a quarter of a season. While many experts tabbed it as one of the worst lines in the league, the unit has responded. They may not be laced with big names, but they are serious about their work.
There is personal pride and a willingness to put in the extra work. They have heard the snickers and have targeted a 2,000 yard season for their tailback as one of the benchmarks for success.
And Tomlinson appreciates their efforts.
"It's easier to run the football when you have holes, when you don't have to worry about the safeties," he said.
Marty Schottenheimer was pleased with their effort. He did, however, also point out that the Titans were shorthanded. He wants to see the success continue.
"I was surprised we got the big runs – the longer runs we were getting," Schottenheimer said. "That is not the Tennessee defense we know because they are banged up.
"(Oben and Goff) have been major contributors," Schottenheimer added.
It was made possible by a new formation. Gone was the wide receiver going into the patented reverse which oftentimes was a fake to draw a linebacker trailing the receiver out of the play.
It was replaced by a no back set. Tomlinson would line up off the line and run into the backfield to setup shop in a one back set. It spread the defense out and made the Titans adjust as the ball was being snapped.
"If we start with no backs in the backfield, they have to spread it out," Tomlinson said. "And I run back and they are already moving around – so they have to move at the same time the ball is snapped. I think it is a heck of a formation for us."
It is the rule of physics. Forward momentum puts the defense in a position it does not want to be in. The cutback lanes are bigger and a back like Tomlinson can exploit them.
"We were getting gashed," Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "Big holes out there and the running back is running through them. It is a long day when you are giving up (195 total) yards rushing. I don't know if I have ever been a part of it."
And as always, when the running game is working, the passing game becomes easier and looks like a thing of beauty.
"The way the O-line was blocking, we didn't need to throw the ball," Brees said.
But they did and everything worked out. The balance on offense proved to be the difference. While the time of possession swung the Titans way, the Bolts were able to move the ball in big chunks. They averaged over eight yards per carry and over ten yards per pass.
It was all made possible by the work of the offensive line.
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