October 14, 2007
TAMPA, Fla. -- All Vince Young could do was stand on the sideline and watch another mobile quarterback produce the winning drive.
Tennessee lost the 2006 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year to a leg injury Sunday, then let a game slip away to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, too.
Jeff Garcia was at his best in the final minute, completing four consecutive passes to march the Bucs into position to beat the Titans 13-10 on Matt Bryant's 43-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining.
The victory enabled the Bucs (4-2) to match last season's victory total. The Titans (3-2) had a five-game road winning streak halted after Young limped off with a quadriceps injury that was still being evaluated.
"Jeff Garcia never gets rattled. All he needs is one more shot, and if you give him one more shot, he's capable of doing what he did," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "It's a credit to Jeff and what he's brought to our football team. I can't even tell you how valuable he is."
Garcia threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Joey Galloway less than five minutes after Young left the game. He launched the winning drive from his own 20 after the Titans tied the score on LenDale White's 2-yard run with 1:17 left.
The leadership the 37-year-old quarterback provided in crunch time is exactly why Gruden signed Garcia as a free agent in March.
Garcia completed 20 of 31 passes for 274 yards and still has not thrown an interception this season. He used completions of 14 yards to Galloway and 28 and 10 yards to Ike Hilliard to move the Bucs into field-goal range.
"I really try to put the pressure on the defense in that sort of situation," Garcia said. "We were tied up, so the main thing for me was not to force a throw or make a poor decision and give them a chance to create a turnover."
Young was injured when he scrambled for a 2-yard gain and was pushed out of bounds by defensive tackle Jovan Haye in the third quarter. He started limping just as Haye caught up to him.
The Titans said the second-year quarterback had a quadriceps strain and his return was probable. But he never re-entered the game, and Tennessee had to rely on backup Kerry Collins.
"He tried to stay loose if he could, in case we had an issue with Kerry," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "At this point, he'll just be day to day, but it was not something he could have played effectively with."
Young agreed he could not have finished. He also said it was too early to speculate about next week at Houston.
"We wanted to be cautious. Every time I tried to bend my knee, it was a little sharp pain," said Young, who was 11-of-14 for 120 yards and one interception. He ran three times. "I really didn't want to go back out there and try anything to make it worse."
Collins made some clutch throws during a 13-play, 86-yard drive to tie the game, but the normally dependable Tennessee defense couldn't hold off Garcia.
"Our plan was not to give up the big play, and we gave up two big plays," Fisher said. "You've got to take your hat off to (Garcia). ... He made plays at the right part of the game."
The Titans overcame a sloppy performance by Young to beat Atlanta 20-13 last week. This time, the quarterback's fumble on a bad handoff to Chris Brown contributed to a slow start on offense.
Collins completed 10 of 20 passes for 125 yards, but he was mostly ineffective until the Titans put together their long TD drive to tie the score. He had completions of 42 yards to Justin Gage and 17 yards to Bo Scaife on third-and-15 to set up White's touchdown.
Tennessee's backup was also helped by instant replay, which overturned two interceptions by Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber -- the second on a pass intended for White in the end zone on the game-tying drive.
The replay showed Barber got one foot down, but that his right hand came down out of bounds.
"I thought we made some plays to get back into the game," Collins said. "Unfortunately we came up a little bit short."
The Associated Press News Service