|Resilient Titans show strength winning game they should've lost|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 08 October 2007 12:51|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Vince Young struggled with a rare display of bad decisions and three interceptions. Tennessee also lost two fumbles, gave up three long plays on special teams and couldn't even get a punt off.|
It was so ugly on a hot steamy afternoon that thousands of fans left early rather than keep watching.
Then the Titans, the team that started 0-5 a year ago, left the field Sunday with a 20-13 win over Atlanta upset enough over their ragged play that coach Jeff Fisher almost had to remind his Titans it still counted as a very important win.
``We're not satisfied. We're satisfied with one thing right now, and that's the record the first part of the season,'' Fisher said Monday. ``We have to get better as a team. That's all there is.''
He's right, and it is easier to correct mistakes after a win. But it's an indicator just how tough these Titans (3-1) have become, winning a game they kept trying to give away.
The last time this team turned the ball over as many as five times, it was Nov. 19, 2000, and the Titans had seven turnovers. They beat Cleveland in that game with a team that posted the NFL's best record that season.
The first time Young was intercepted three times, he was a rookie, and the Titans lost 37-7 at Jacksonville last November.
This team now has won nine of its last 11 with the only losses to Indianapolis, 22-20 in Week 2, and New England in the 2006 regular season finale.
On Sunday, a defense stung by criticism all offseason for giving up more yards per game than any other in the NFL, provided the difference with a relentless performance.
Tennessee allowed only two field goals off those picks and held Atlanta to 198 yards of offense. Of the Falcons' 99 yards rushing, 49 came on a fake punt by Artose Pinner and 18 came on Warrick Dunn's run just before the 2-minute warning.
The Titans first hit Joey Harrington, then Byron Leftwich. Neither quarterback could gain more than two first downs in any drive. They held despite the Falcons starting in Tennessee territory six times.
``Our defense played lights out, and that's what we needed them to do,'' running back Chris Brown said after the game. ``We've got a great defense and we know that. We can depend on them. ... But we can't keep putting them in bad situations like we did.''
Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, whose flying tackle stopped Warrick Dunn to set up the game-saving, goal-line stand, said the Titans are better prepared for such games because they found so many ways to win in 2006.
``Last year, it felt like everybody was saying we won despite our defense. This year, people are saying we're winning because of our defense. That's a good feeling. It's fun to be a part of a really good defense and a part of a fast, aggressive defensive line,'' Vanden Bosch said.
This game revealed some weaknesses on offense and special teams that must be fixed with a two-game road swing to Tampa Bay (3-2) Sunday and Houston (3-2).
The offense needed to run out the clock in the fourth quarter to protect a lead only to miss a 47-yard field goal wide left. Another drive was ended by Young's third interception.
``You only get to play like we did today on offense about once a season,'' Brown said. ``Maybe once every two seasons.''
On special teams, rookie Chris Davis fumbled a punt late in the third. Jerious Norwood returned a kickoff 76 yards in the third quarter, and kicker Rob Bironas had to tackle Norwood later in the quarter to stop him after a 45-yard kickoff return.
And punter Craig Hentrich had to protect the ball after a defender slipped through unblocked, downing him at the Titans 19 with 2:24 to go.
``To come through with a win makes it a little bit easier,'' Hentrich said. ``But it'll be a good situation to wake guys up.''
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