The NFL notebook …
Fired Detroit Lions president Matt Millen, the architect of the NFL’s first 0-16 team, says he’s responsible for its historic encounter with failure.
Appearing Saturday on NBC’s “Football Night in America,” Millen said he would have fired himself after the 2008 season. He said that being sacked after the third week cost the Lions and coach Rod Marinelli some needed stability and consistency.
Detroit went 31-84 under Millen, a Super Bowl-winning linebacker lured out of the broadcast booth by team owner William Clay Ford in 2001.
Millen says the Lions have more talent than they’re given credit for, and he thinks they could improve quickly. He cites two playoff teams, the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins, who had four wins and one win in 2007.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó The Tennessee Titans had the pieces in place to be among the NFL’s best a year ago when they squeaked into the playoffs only to lose in the first round.
Turns out their biggest help sat on their bench.
With Kerry Collins calmly replacing the injured Vince Young after the opener, the Titans ran up the NFL’s best record at 13-3 to grab the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage. That includes a bye this weekend before their divisional playoff game Jan. 10.
“A veteran quarterback that’s been around like Kerry has, they’ve seen everything,” center Kevin Mawae said. “They stay cool under pressure, and guys believe in them. … Kerry’s been fun to play with. He’s a great field leader. He knows what’s going on, and he never gets rattled. I think that’s one thing in common with great veteran quarterbacks.”
Only Indianapolis (9) and Philadelphia (7) have reached the playoffs more over the past 10 years than the Titans, making their sixth appearance this season.
BRONCOSENGLEWOOD, Colo. ó The search for Mike Shanahan’s successor took the Denver Broncos brass to the East Coast for weekend interviews with two of the league’s hottest coaching candidates.
Owner Pat Bowlen, chief operating officer Joe Ellis and personnel chief Jim Goodman jetted off to New York on Saturday for a dinner meeting with New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, followed by a Sunday conversation with New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
The trio will return to Denver for interviews at team headquarters next week with Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
BUSY MANNEW YORK ó The New York Jets also interviewed Spagnuolo about their coaching vacancy.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. ó Fans purchased more than 20,000 tickets to Minnesota’s playoff game over six days, assuring there will be no local TV blackout when the Vikings host Philadelphia at the Metrodome on Sunday.
The NFL gave the Vikings two extensions, the second until Saturday ó 24 hours before kickoff ó after they sold about 5,000 seats from Thursday to Friday.
NEW YORK ó Former New York Giant Mark Ingram was arrested in Michigan, nearly a month after he disappeared on the day he was scheduled to begin serving a prison sentence for bank fraud and money laundering.
U.S. marshals tracked the retired wide receiver to a hotel room in Flint, Mich., after a manhunt that began when he failed to turn up at a federal prison in Kentucky on Dec. 5.