October 7, 2007
NASHVILLE (cbssportsline.com/AP) -- Vince Young was sloppy, and some of his Titans teammates looked equally rusty. Tennessee's resilient and stingy defense made up for it.
Vincent Fuller picked off a pass and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown, and Kyle Vanden Bosch sacked Byron Leftwich with 1:01 left, as the Titans overcame five turnovers in pulling out a 20-13 victory Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons.
The win allowed the Titans (3-1) to continue their best start since 2003 when they last reached the playoffs. But it couldn't have been uglier for a team coming off its bye. Young matched his career high with three interceptions.
Atlanta (1-4) scored only 13 points off the turnovers and botched plenty of chances to win, including three missed field goals.
Leftwich, who replaced a battered Joey Harrington in the fourth quarter, overthrew an open Laurent Robinson in the end zone after Demorrio Williams intercepted Young's pass with 4:15 to go.
Williams gave Leftwich another shot, breaking through and tackling Titans punter Craig Hentrich at the Tennessee 19 with 2:24 left. That gave Atlanta the ball with 2:24 left, and Warrick Dunn, held to nine yards on his previous nine carries, broke loose for 18.
That was as close as the Falcons would get, and Vanden Bosch's sack on fourth-and-5 sealed the victory.
Part of Atlanta's problem was trying - and missing - three long field goals despite having the kicker with the most career field goals in NFL history on the team.
The 47-year-old Morten Andersen was short on a 48-yarder. Michael Koenen, Atlanta's punter and kicker on long field goals, was short on a 53-yarder in the second and was wide left on a 50-yarder early in the fourth quarter.
That forced the Falcons to try to reach the end zone on those final two drives. The Titans, who have not allowed a point in the fourth quarter this season, shut them out on a steamy afternoon when the temperature was 89 at the end.
The Titans hadn't played since beating New Orleans 31-14 on Sept. 24, and the layoff showed. They turned the ball over twice in their first three possessions, and DeAngelo Hall picked up LenDale White's fumble on Tennessee's opening drive and ran it 56 yards for a TD.
Michael Boley intercepted Young's pass that led to Andersen's 32-yard field goal. Andersen also kicked a 28-yarder off another interception by Young for a 13-10 Falcons lead in the third quarter.
The Titans also struggled on special teams, giving up a 49-yard run to Artose Pinner on a fake play that set up Andersen's first field goal. They later gave up a 76-yard kickoff return to Jerious Norwood, but Andersen came up short on his field goal attempt.
Tennessee sacked Harrington twice and hit him repeatedly. He was replaced with 10:43 left after throwing for only 87 yards.
Leftwich, signed Sept. 18 as insurance, was no better. A play after missing Robinson, Titans defensive end Travis LaBoy deflected Leftwich's pass, and linebacker David Thornton picked it off.
Young and the offense couldn't run out the clock, going three-and-out again. The defense bailed them out.
The Associated Press News Service