ST. LOUIS — Chris Johnson became a star under Jeff Fisher, rushing for 2,000 yards in 2009 a year after the Tennessee Titans drafted him in the first round.
On Sunday, Johnson got the best of his former coach.
“C.J., when he gets on the edge he goes,” Fisher said after Johnson’s second touchdown of the game was the go-ahead score in the Titans’ 28-21 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
Fisher has seen Johnson run wild plenty of times, just not from the opposite sideline.
He again downplayed the matchup against the franchise he coached for 16 years, saying it was “another week for me,” although he expected the loss to hurt more for former Titans players now in the St. Louis lineup.
“I think this one probably at the end of the day, it’s probably going to last a little longer, hurt a little bit more,” Fisher said. “Because it was important to them.”
Titans coach Mike Munchak, a longtime former Fisher aide, also said this game was nothing personal. The postgame handshake was brief.
“That’s something we can talk more about in the offseason and having bragging rights about who beat who,” Munchak said. “But this is all about us vs. them.
“Players are the ones who win the games.”
Johnson ran for 150 yards on 23 carries for the Titans (4-4), who ended a three-game losing streak after their bye against a team on short rest. The Rams lost 14-9 to Seattle on Monday night and have dropped three in a row.
Johnson’s 19-yard scoring run snapped a tie with 2:54 remaining the play after Jurrell Casey sacked and stripped quarterback Kellen Clemens, and Derrick Morgan recovered. Clemens landed on it first, but the ball squirted away.
“It’s a mistake that can’t be made,” Clemens said. “And unfortunately I made it.”
The Rams (3-6) have lost three in a row despite a second straight 100-yard game from rookie Zac Stacy, who had 127 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.
St. Louis drove to the Titans 26 in the final minute, but Austin Pettis could only get a hand on Clemens’ high throw to a corner of the end zone on fourth down.
Johnson gained his most yards since Week 7 last season against Buffalo when he had 195. In the previous four games, he’d totaled 110 yards with a 2.4-yard average per carry.
“It helps my confidence, sure,” Johnson said. “I felt like I was getting close to breaking out.”
Rookie Tavon Austin’s 24-yard punt return gave the Rams a final chance at their 39 with 50 seconds to go and no timeouts. Chris Givens had a 25-yard catch to put them in position.
Rodney McLeod intercepted an overthrown pass by Locker with 4:44 left, less than two minutes after former Titan Jared Cook tied it at 21 with a 10-yard catch from Clemens.
Locker put the Titans up 21-14 with 9:42 to go on a 4-yard run, breaking a tackle by linebacker Alec Ogletree about 2 yards from the end zone.
Stacy gained more than 100 yards for the second straight week on the next drive with a 32-yard carry topped off by a horse collar penalty on Casey after he’d stepped out of bounds.
The Rams had a sloppy start with three straight penalties helping the Titans score on their opening possession capped by Shonn Greene’s 5-yard run. Cortland Finnegan, Darian Stewart and Jermelle Cudjo were whistled for horse collar, holding and illegal use of hands.
Stacy’s 3-yard run in the second quarter was St. Louis’ first rushing touchdown of the season. It also was their first TD in two games overall, to snap a 1-for-8 slump inside the 20.
Clemens was 7 for 7 for 75 yards to open the game, and 0 for 6 to finish the half — with two dropped passes. The Rams failed to capitalize on Cortland Finnegan’s interception in the final minute when Greg Zuerlein pushed a 44-yard field goal attempt just wide to the right — his first miss inside 50 of the season in 15 attempts.
Notes: “Modern Family” star Ty Burrell wore a Rams camp during an interview on the scoreboard during a break in the first quarter. … Casey got his fifth sack of the season in the first quarter. … Coty Sensabaugh’s fumble recovery at the Titans 10 in the first quarter stifled a Rams scoring opportunity and capitalized on a careless play by rookie Benny Cunningham, who lost his grip without contact. … Locker has two rushing TDs this season and four for his career.