On Johnson vs. Finnegan, Titans as dirty

HOUSTON -- Andre Johnson was contrite. From what I am told, Cortland Finnegan was invisible.

The two had a hockey style, fourth-quarter fight and both got ejected from the Texans’ 20-0 win over Tennessee. Finnegan, the Titans' feisty corner, covered Johnson, the Texans' super low-key receiver all game.

While Johnson caught nine passes, the Titans and Finnegan did well to keep him in front of them. He managed only 56 yards but did score on a 1-yard pass.

Afterward, Texans owner Bob McNair said he gave the bout to Johnson in a decision.

“I awarded it to Andre on points,” McNair said. Asked if he feared a suspension, McNair continued: “I don’t know why there would be. The DB was all over him and he (Finnegan) is the one who initiated it and he’d been doing it the play before and the whole game. He just went a little too far and Andre’s the one who was on camera when the action heated up. That’s not Andre.”

I couldn’t chase both players at the same time after the game. Johnson talked right as the Texans' locker room opened. Colleagues who were in the Titans' locker room said Finnegan didn’t speak or wasn’t around.

Johnson said he knows people will make jokes about it. But he takes pride in a clean reputation and was distraught over doing something that could dent that.

“I would like to apologize to the organization, our owner, my teammates,” he said. “What happened out there wasn’t me. I just lost my cool and I wish I could take back what happened, but I can’t. I’m pretty sure I’ll be disciplined for it, I’ll have to deal with it from there.”

As for how it unfolded, he said “it’s just a buildup of things over plays.”

Titans defensive end Jason Babin was a teammate of Johnson’s with the Texans.

“I was surprised. He’s a soft spoken guy who works hard, does the right things,” Babin said. “To see him land punches on someone without a helmet on, that was surprising. Emotions get high. That’s the way it goes.

“You’d think for a guy who’s 220 pounds to connect like that three times he would knock him out. I don’t know, I already thought he was tough, but I guess Cortland is tougher than I thought.”

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he was confused by the ejection for his player as Finnegan said he never took a swing.

The fight sparked a broader round of accusations from Texans offensive lineman Eric Winston, who echoed the sentiment from the Denver Broncos from earlier in the season that the Titans are dirty.

Asked to reiterate a statement a moment earlier about them being dirty, Winston said: “I think that they are.”

“You’ve got guys pushing guys over piles, hitting quarterbacks late, doing that stuff, obviously throwing punches. That’s all crazy stuff to me,” Winston said. “I don’t understand it. I don’t get why that is. It seems like they get away with a lot of it though, so I guess they decide to push the limit on it.

"You’ve got guys clearly targeting other players who don’t have the ball. To me, that’s dirty. Maybe by other people’s definition of it that isn’t. I don’t think that they think that’s dirty, for whatever reason. But to me that is. It’s not like they’re doing it by themselves. That’s what they are taught to do. And I’m not trying to make a statement about them. I’m just saying that’s the Titans. You know what you’re getting into."

Relayed Winston’s feelings on the subject, Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil couldn’t suppress a grin.

“If there ever has been a pot calling a kettle black," he said, "that is it."