I don't even know what to say about this game. It was that unbelievable. I have said it a lot of times over the last month, but the transformation this team has made in 5 weeks is nothing short of amazing. Instead of feeling like the Titans are 2-3 years away from contention, I feel like they are in contention this season and are 2-3 players away from being a really, really good team next year.
Let's start with the obvious- Vince Young is a winner, and today he was a winner with unfathomable numbers. He was 27 of 43 for 387 yards and 1 touchdown. 387 yards! He answered a couple of the questions I have had about him today: 1. How will he react when faced with adversity? It was a pretty bad play at the end of the half to let the time run out, but he didn't hang his head. He came back even better in the second half. 2. How will he do when a team knows he has to throw to win the game? How does 9-16 for 93 yards sound? And oh yeah, he did that in the final 2:37 of the game. VY is a legit NFL QB, and he is proving people wrong, myself included, with each passing week.
And then there is Chris Johnson. The pace he is on is just crazy. He had another big TD run in this game, 85 yards, and finished the game with 18 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown. He only needs to average 120.8 yards per game for the rest of the season to get 2,000 and 141.8 per game to tie Eric Dickerson's single season rushing record of 2,105.
What about Kenny Britt? This kid has stepped up in the absence of Justin Gage and proven that he is a legitimate NFL receiver. It has been a long, long time since the Titans drafted one of those. He came up big time and time again in this game including a great catch of the first fourth down of the final drive and the game winning touchdown catch. And you have to love the comments he makes about it after the game:
Kenny Britt, gripping the ball he caught for winning TD, just told me he’s put it down only for a shower. "I’ll never let it go,’’ he said.
(h/t) smashThe Titans defense came out strong in the game forcing the Cardinals to go three and out on their first offensive possession. The Titans did catch a break not having to face Kurt Warner, but Matt Leinart looked better than I expected him too. He looks to lack arm strength, but he is very accurate and gets the ball out on time. On an unrelated note, how much do you think Leinart hates VY? There is little doubt in my mind that he was having flashbacks to the Rose Bowl in the final 2:37 of this game.
Vince got off to a fast start in the game hitting Nate Washington for a 29 yard gain on the Titans first offensive play. That play set up a 52 yard field goal from Rob Bironas that gave the Titans an early 3-0 lead. Bironas struggled in camp and the early in the season, but he has returned to his form as one of the best kickers in the game.
The defense held again and the Cardinals downed the punt at the Titans 5 yard line. Vince took the offense 90 yards to the Arizona 5 before the drive stalled forcing another Bironas field goal. That drive included a big pass to Bo Scaife and another to Britt.
Arizona would get on the board with 2 minutes remaining in the first half when Neil Rackers hit a 41 yard field goal. Vince would hit two big plays on the ensuing drive to get the Titans in field goal range. Unfortunately the Titans would not get a field goal because of the one bad play Vince made on the day. He took a snap with eight seconds left in the half and scrambled around before he was sacked at the half ended. SuperHorn made a good point in the quick recap that about 50% of the time Young makes a TD happen on the play. While that is a good point, Vince has to have better awareness of the time there and get down in time to give Bironas a shot. I have no doubt that VY will learn from that play.
The third quarter was pretty boring until CJ took a hand off and went 85 yards for a TD while running away from two Cardinal defensive backs that had an angle. Kick coverage, which has haunted the Titans all season long, haunted them again on the ensuing kickoff when LaRod Stephens-Howling went 99 yards for a TD. Momentum stolen.
The Cardinals would take their first lead of the game on a six yard TD run by Tim Hightower. That was set up by a 21 yard completion from Leinart to Beanie Wells on Nick Harper as shocking as that may be.
I found it interesting that Rod Hood and LenDale White were inactive for this game. Fisher was very short about the decision on White in the postgame which leads me to believe that it could have been disciplinary. However that is pure speculation on my part. The more interesting one was Hood. What did Fisher expect to happen if Harper or Cortland Finnegan were injured? Did he not watch Hood play in the three games he filled in for Harper? I am really at a loss on that one.
The defense would hold twice after the TD drive to give the offense a chance at the end. It looked like the Titans were going to take the lead after the first stop when VY hit Britt for 51 yards, but Britt was stripped from behind by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the Cardinals recovered.
And here is the final drive play by play:
Play 1- Vince does a nice job of avoiding the rush in his own end zone and finding Britt for a 6 yard gain. I wondered while watching live why they weren't quicker to get on the ball, but I figured that they were planning to run once because the two minute warning was coming up. I was wrong.
Play 2- Incomplete pass to Scaife on the sideline. Looked like a play he should have made.
Play 3- Incomplete on a slant to Britt. The throw was a little low but in a good place because it was either going to be caught by Britt or no one.
Play 4- Maybe the best throw of the drive. Vince throws what looked to me like a stop fade to Britt. The DB never saw the ball coming. Britt made a heck of a play on it.
Play 5- This was the crazy tip ball that ended up in the arms of Scaife for a 19 yard gain. The Titans got a huge break here because balls that are tipped up like that rarely land in the arms of the offense.
Play 6- Lavelle Hawkins catches a 2 yard out. Not a big play but positive yardage and clock stoppage.
Play 7- Jared Cook makes an appearance with a nice catch and run of 12 yards.
Play 8- Incomplete intended for Nate Washington.
Play 9- Vince scrambles for 6 yards and gets out of bounds.
Play 10- Vince does a great job of getting away from the blitz and throwing the ball away.
Play 11- The second 4th down conversion on the drive in the form of VY to the Hawk for 13 yards and out of bounds.
Play 12- Complete to Scaife for 5 and out of bounds.
Play 13- Incomplete on a shot down the field to Washington.
Play 14- Cook makes his second play of the drive 17 yards and out of bounds.
Play 15- Incomplete on a miscommunication between VY and Scaife.
Play 16- Vince sacked, but not a terrible play because it was only a loss of 1 and the Titans still had 2 timeouts.
Play 17- Incomplete on a ball that Washington should have been able to come down with.
Play 18- Vince steps up like he is going to run while keeping his eyes down field and finds Britt in the back of the end zone for the game winner.
And there you have it. 5 in row in a season that continues to boggle the mind with the playoffs still being a possibility. It is really unbelievable to watch.
Site note: I understand people having a problem with the countdown to the draft remaining up on the front page, but the Titans haven't lost since I put it there. I refuse to have a loss on my head so it stays.