Another week, another Throwback Thursday. While last week's covered an entire time period, today's will go back to a more traditional template with us taking a look at a classic Titans game. 2006 was one of the most memorable seasons in Titans' history, and re-living this game was very exciting:
Context: At the time, it looked like the start of something seriously special in Nashville. Titans fans were somewhat spoiled, because outside of the two previous years that were transitional thanks to the salary cap purge, all that they knew was having a franchise quarterback and a team that was a consistent playoff contender. However, the franchise was now in a much different place, and they were looking to replicate the previous success. So, they drafted the sensational, playmaking quarterback from Texas, Vince Young. However, he started the season on the bench so that he could learn the game more, develop, and mature. Unfortunately, the team started 0-3, and it was obvious that they were continuing to sink with Kerry Collins at the helm. So, they turned to the rookie, and instantly won 2 out of their next 3 games. The offense look much improved under Young, thanks to his huge arm, playmaking ability, and speed; the offense opened up significantly. Even in losses, like to the eventual Super Bowl champion Colts and 13-3 Ravens, the team looked much more competitive, and only lost by a combined 2 points. Thanks to "VY", the Titans were back to winning games, and fans were back to the football that they had been accustomed to in the early 2000's.
The Main Event: This game started off in a similar fashion to some games that Titans fans have been used to seeing in the past couple of years. The Giants were blowing the Titans off the ball, and running all over them. They were moving the ball with ease. In the second quarter, Brandon Jacobs ran for his 2nd touchdown of the half, putting New York up, 21-0. That score remained until the 4th quarter. However, the turning point was on a 4th and 9 with 11 minutes to go. Vince Young scrambled towards the fourth down marker, and came up short. However, he took a shot to the head by a Giants defender out of bounds, which kept the drive alive. Vince Young came up from the hit fired up, and the fans began to get back into the game, and behind the team. An electric atmosphere was starting to build. Young and the Titans would finish the drive with points, making the score 21-7. The Titans got the ball back after the defense held strong, and turned their next drive into more points, thanks to a Vince Young bootleg on the goal line, making the score 21-14 with just above 5 minutes left. You could almost see and feel the momentum shift and atmosphere change in the stadium. There was a sense of "we can do this" among the team that was starting to develop right in front of our eyes. Not long after the Titans second touchdown, they got the ball back. Facing another fourth down, the game was on the line once again. Giants' Defensive lineman Mathias Kiwanuka broke through the line of scrimmage, and was primed to sack Vince Young. However, in a play that encapsulated the craziness of the entire game, Kiwanuka thought he heard a whistle and stopped playing right before driving Young to the ground after wrapping him up. "VY" broke free, and was on the run. He pump faked, and juked a Giants defender out of his shoes, while sprinting towards the first down marker. From there, you could just tell that things were meant to be for the Titans on this day. They capitalized off of their 4th down conversion, and Young delivered a strike to Brandon Jones between two defenders in the endzone, tying things up at 21 a piece. The Giants were now in scramble mode on offense, trying to make up for their extreme blunder in the 4th quarter. However, due to the sloppiness that came with this mindset, Eli Manning threw another ill-advised interception to Pacman Jones at midfield. The Titans did not have to move the ball far to get into Rob Bironas' range. When they did, there were only a few seconds left. The big footed, incredibly reliable, and extremely clutch Bironas nailed the field goal, and completed one of the most incredible comebacks that fans have ever seen, right in LP Field.
Significance: This was the turning point of the Titans' season. Before this game, Vince Young was flashing a lot of talent. However, the Titans did not really have a defining win where they had to face adversity, make a comeback, and close things out at the end of the game. After this game, the Titans won 4 of their final 5 games of the season. Also, the two weeks after this game included two dramatic wins over the Texans and Colts. It appeared as if the Titans had their new version of Steve McNair--a mobile, playmaking, clutch quarterback. However, the rest of his career has been covered ad nauseum. That being said, no one can discount the magic that took place during this run in 2006. It was one of the most exciting seasons in Titans history, and this was one of the most exciting games in Titans history. If any other team made a comeback like the Titans did on this day, it would be talked about for years and years. However, somehow, this seems to be a somewhat forgotten game, at least from a league perspective. At any rate, this season was the beginning of a new era for the Titans. A belief in winning, and new culture was established in the locker room thanks to wins like this during the 2006 season. The next two years, the Titans made the playoffs. As we are now watching the birth of another new era with Marcus Mariota, we can think back to the 2006 season, and see how just a few wins can really turn around the fortune of a franchise.
Pulls From The Archives:
There's onefor the ages. A friend at the game made a great comment as the Titans were lining up to kick the game winning field goal. He said, "Think about how tense this would be if it actually mattered." That was the most fun I have had at a Titans game in a long time.
What can you say about VY? The kid is already starting to build his NFL legend. I have heard people say that VY is Mike Vick but not as fast. I will say this, if you gave me the choice to pick one of them for my franchise I would take VY in a landslide. He may not be the prototypical QB. His accuaracy may not be up to NFL speed yet but the kid is a winner. Period. The play in 4th quarter on 4th and 10 when he pump faked Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and escaped to run for a 20 yard gain is, in one play, all of the reasons the Titans took him at #3. He just has that quality about him that makes he and his teammates better in crunch time. It is going to be a blast to watch him play.