"Kerry Collins is an example of what the essence of the NFL is all about capitalizing when you get the chance," Titans tight end Alge Crumpler says.
Kerry Collins already has had to address the longest day in his lengthy football career once this season. Now that bad memory undoubtedly will be recycled again for the Tennessee Titans quarterback. During the 2000 season, Collins was one of the many quarterbacks to get shut down by the Baltimore Ravens' overpowering defense. For Collins, the difference was that his hopeless day came in the Super Bowl, as the New York Giants were beaten 34-7.
And it's worth noting that perhaps the second-most-demoralized loser to Baltimore that season was Tennessee. Those 2000 Titans, just like the present-day Titans, were a 13-3 team that had home-field advantage secured for the postseason but were beaten by Baltimore 24-10.
So perhaps it's poetic justice that Collins and the Titans will get a chance Saturday afternoon at LP Field to correct their failings of 2000.
Collins already exorcised his Ravens demons to some extent this season when he led a touchdown drive late at Baltimore to secure a 13-10 victory.
In the lead-up to that game, Collins addressed his Super Bowl defeat matter-of-factly.
"I certainly still have vivid memories of the game, most of which were not so good, but my hat's off to them," Collins said. "They were a good team and a great defense, and it was a good job on their part."
What Collins remembered most about the 2000 Ravens was, "Their team speed was just tremendous. They were all over the field and obviously a well-coached bunch — smart players, very sound in what they did, and obviously very talented. … That was by far the best defense I've ever played against."
Collins was intercepted four times in the Super Bowl and finished with a microscopic 7.1 passer rating.
That low came one game after Collins had his best playoff performance, throwing for 381 yards and five touchdowns while running up a 120.8 passer rating in a 41-0 NFC Championship Game victory against the Minnesota Vikings.
Collins' Tennessee teammates aren't worried about the missed Super Bowl opportunity haunting their 36-year-old, 14-season veteran.
Titans tight end Alge Crumpler salutes the quiet way Collins waited for another chance to start and then seized it when he replaced injured Vince Young late in the season opener.
"Kerry Collins is an example of what the essence of the NFL is all about — capitalizing when you get the chance," Crumpler says.
Adds Crumpler: "We've come this far, and a lot of it has to do with how Kerry has taken over the helm. You can't play this game as long as he has without being a true professional. He clearly understands what he has to do to push the right buttons to make things happen."
Collins' favorite target this season has been the Titans' other tight end, Bo Scaife, who's had 58 catches.
Says Scaife of Collins, "He's just a down-to-earth guy. He just goes about life being thankful for everything he's got, a real humble guy."
In the huddle, Scaife says, "He always has the same plain expression on his face. It's just that nothing bothers him. He's seen it all."
That was evident in the way Collins addressed his huddle after opening an Oct. 21 game against the Houston Texans with a terrible throw and an interception on his first pass of the game.
Returning to the field for the next series, Collins smiled at his offense and said, "Well, I'm glad we got that over with."
In that game, Collins became the 15th NFL quarterback to amass 35,000 career passing yards. He since has moved up to 14th, with 37,393, and with one more strong season he conceivably could pass such legends as 11th-ranked Johnny Unitas (40,239) and 10th-ranked Joe Montana (40,551).
But first there's the matter of getting deeper into the playoffs and getting that elusive Super Bowl victory.
"At 36, to be in this position, to have home-field advantage, the chances that I'm going to get another opportunity like this are pretty small," Collins says. "I'm going to try to take advantage of it."