CATEGORY: Footballl

AUTHOR: REILY

HED:George improves, but he's still not satisfied with performance

By Ross W. Reily

Daily Journal

MEMPHIS Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Oilers coach Jeff Fisher said running back Eddie George had "the ugliest 106-yard performance" he had ever seen.

Sunday, George rushed for 125 yards on 31 carries as the Oilers won their second straight game, a 28-14 win over the Washington Redskins. The Oilers (3-4) go on the road to play the Arizona Cardinals next week.

"Eddie had a good game," Fisher said Sunday. "But I still think he can play better and I believe he thinks he can play better. He can have 160-, 170-yard days.

"He still hasn't had another Raiders game."

George ran for 206 yards against the Oakland Raiders in the first game of the season. Sunday's total was the best game he's had since then.

"I had a good day," George said. "My offensive line did a great job, especially as the game went along. But, can I do better?

"Sure. I wouldn't be much of a competitor if I didn't think I could do better."

If George gets any better, the Oilers will be a serious contender in the AFC Central and that is what Fisher is banking on.

He made the calls

Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair received high praise from Fisher Sunday. McNair threw for 192 yards, ran for 53, including a touchdown dash, and did not throw an interception for the second straight week.

"The big thing for Steve is that he is recognizing defenses and making good decisions," Fisher said. "He made more calls at the line of scrimmage today than at any other time this season.

"That is important for us, because we need someone on the field to do that. But (Sunday) was good for Steve, because he is becoming more confident in reading defenses."

McNair said he was more confident, but he gave the most credit to George and the offensive line.

"It's nice to have those guys helping you out," McNair said.

Win and they will come

Oilers owner Bud Adams proclaimed early in the week that he guaranteed a sellout in the Liberty Bowl before the end of the season.

Heading into Sunday's game, crowds averaged near 21,000 in 62,500-seat Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

"I stand by that," Adams said Sunday after Tennessee drew its largest crowd of the season 31,042. "We had a lot more people out there and they were happy to be here. They saw a great game and a young team beginning to come together."

The crowd also saw the Washington Redskins. Many reporters at the game estimated the Redskins' following to be near 10,000. That doesn't sway Adams.

"I'll take that," he said. "The more we get in here to see us win, the more that will come back.

"I still believe we have a chance to make the playoffs and if we are battling for a spot late in the season, this place will fill up."

If the Oilers can pull off a win at Arizona next week, Adams will be a happy man. His team would return to Memphis with a three-game win streak and a home date against the AFC Central's front runner, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The stage is set. The on-field Oilers know a win against the Cardinals will help boost ticket sales. Now, the front-office Oilers need to avoid public-relations gaffs while the team is in the desert.

Ross W. Reily is assistant sports editor for the Daily Journal.

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