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Atlanta at Tennessee

Titans overcome shaky QB, five turnovers to beat Falcons

CBSSports.com wire reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Atlanta Falcons had first-and-goal at the Tennessee 1, needing a touchdown to get even with two minutes left.

When Albert Haynesworth leaped and turned a toss play into an 8-yard loss, Tennessee's resilient, stingy defense bailed out sloppy Titans quarterback Vince Young.

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 Tennessee Titans overcame five turnovers in pulling out a 20-13 victory Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons.

"When you get on the 1-yard line, you assume that your team is going to put the ball in for seven," Atlanta cornerback DeAngelo Hall said.

The win allowed the Titans (3-1) to continue their best start since 2003 when they last reached the playoffs. This is the fourth 3-1 start under coach Jeff Fisher, and they made the postseason the three previous times.

But it couldn't have been uglier for a team coming off its bye. Young matched his career high with three interceptions and said he knows he made bad decisions by trying to force some balls.

"Our defense saved this game," Young said.

Fisher agreed.

"The obvious reason we won this game was because of the performance, the consistent performance and never-say-die attitude the defense took throughout the game," Fisher said.

Atlanta (1-4) scored only 13 points off the turnovers and botched plenty of chances to win, including three missed field goals.

"The bottom line is their defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage, and we couldn't make plays when they were there," Atlanta coach Bobby Petrino said.

Petrino replaced a battered Joey Harrington, who threw for 87 yards, with Leftwich trying to spark the offense in the fourth quarter. Leftwich overthrew 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.

Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said this win showed that Tennessee has all it takes to be a good team.

"As a team, we have to come together and start playing like it," he said. "We're 3-1, and it could be a lot worse."

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.

"We couldn't get it done offensively," Petrino said.

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 never picked up more than two first downs in any drive and had four or fewer plays on six possessions. They turned over the ball twice in their first three possessions, and 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.

Leftwich, signed Sept. 18 as insurance, was no better. A play after missing Robinson, Titans defensive end Travis LaBoy deflected Leftwich's pass that was then picked off by linebacker David Thornton.

Young and the offense couldn't run out the clock, going three-and-out again. The defense bailed them out.


  • Atlanta starting left tackle Wayne Gandy suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter, and the Falcons fear it might end his season. "I'm very concerned about Wayne," Petrino said. "It didn't look good."
  • The Titans are 13-1 against the NFC South.
  • The Titans beat Atlanta for the fifth consecutive time.
  • Tennessee improved to 11-8 after its bye.
  • Fuller has interception returns for TDs in back-to-back games, both coming off tips. This time, the ball bounced off Falcons WR Michael Jennings' left hand to Fuller.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Vince Young has a miserable statistical day (zero TDs, three picks) but still has something to smile about.
Vince Young has a miserable statistical day (zero TDs, three picks) but still has something to smile about. (AP)


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Sun. Oct. 7Final
Scoring Summary
TDDeAngelo Hall, 56 Yd fumble return (Morten Andersen kick is good), 10:00.
TDChris Brown, 3 Yd run (Rob Bironas kick is good), 6:15. Drive: 6 plays, 58 yards in 3:45.
FGMorten Andersen 32 Yd, 11:15. Drive: 8 plays, 62 yards in 3:45.
FGRob Bironas 30 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 8 plays, 43 yards in 1:31.
FGMorten Andersen 28 Yd, 10:08. Drive: 7 plays, 12 yards in 3:29.
FGRob Bironas 40 Yd, 6:56. Drive: 7 plays, 57 yards in 3:12.
TDVincent Fuller, 76 Yd interception return (Rob Bironas kick is good), 1:00.
Players of the Game

C. Brown
Rush 10
Yds 27
Avg 2.7
TD 1

R. White
Rec 3
Yds 55
Avg 18.3
TD 0
J. Harrington16/318701
B. Leftwich2/82801
A. Pinner149049
W. Dunn1027018
J. Norwood62309
B. Leftwich3101
O. Mughelli1101
R. White1-20-2
R. White355034
L. Robinson42709
W. Dunn21209
M. Milner2805
A. Crumpler2406
J. Norwood24010
J. Horn2305
M. Jenkins1202
V. Young20/3315703
L. White123208
C. Brown102716
V. Young827020
C. Davis114014
C. Hentrich1-80-8
B. Jones336016
E. Moulds431010
B. Troupe222013
R. Williams219015
A. Hall217011
J. Gage31508
C. Brown2704
B. Hartsock1707
B. Scaife1303
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
DAL 25 Final
BUF 24
CHI 27 Final
GB 20
BAL 9 Final
SF 7
SD 41 Final
ARI 34 Final
STL 31
DET 3 Final
WAS 34
SEA 0 Final
PIT 21
NYJ 24 Final
NYG 35
CAR 16 Final
NO 13
CLE 17 Final
NE 34
JAC 17 Final
KC 7
TB 14 Final
IND 33
MIA 19 Final
HOU 22