He showed up in Jacksonville Friday wearing a boot on his left foot to protect one of football's more modern injuries — turf toe. He's had the injury for a while and playing on the artificial surface at Indianapolis last week hardly helped the condition.

"It got better each day,'' he said. "I was not sitting out this game. It's something I worked too hard for.''

There still is pain, but McNair was not complaining.

"Right now, it's a good hurt,'' he said.

McNair was listed as questionable for the game which, in the lexicon of the NFL meant he was 50-50. On game day, though, he turned out to be 100 percent. The only question was how many yards he would generate.

Things did not start out all that well. On Tennessee's first play from scrimmage, the Titans were called for delay of game.

The first series went nowhere and the second was headed in the same direction when Carnell Lake intercepted a pass by McNair with Jacksonville already leading 7-0, But Lake was called for interference on the play and the penalty was a reprieve for McNair.

Suddenly, he was Air McNair again, poised and picking the Jaguars apart. A run here, a pass there and he took Tennessee into the end zone to tie the game.

Midway through the second quarter, McNair lost his favorite receiver when Yancey Thigpen broke his right foot.

No problem. McNair simply found other places to go. He completed passes to seven different receivers.

The most impressive came on Tennessee's first possession of the second half. Trapped by Kevin Hardy, McNair danced away from a sure sack and hit George for 15 yards.

"That was a great play by Eddie,'' McNair said. "It was a keeper and they came through untouched. I got away, reversed the ground on him and threw a touch pass.''

Tony Brackens, who had flattened him in the second quarter and knocked the air out of McNair, nailed him again on the play. This time, though, the hit was late and the penalty added 15 more yards for the Titans.

Tennessee continued on into the end zone, a go-ahead TD scored by McNair and the start of a 16-point spurt in 4 minutes, 28 seconds that put the Titans in charge of the game.

This was McNair, comfortable and competent. There were no five-touchdown fireworks like the last time he faced the Jaguars. This was a quarterback in charge, able to do just about anything he wanted, whenever he wanted.

And when he was done, there was nothing questionable about his toe anymore.