The Dallas Cowboys prepared their defense to play a predictable Tennessee Titans offense yesterday, but a different team showed up. The Titan’s finally decided to unleash their triple threat strategy that few teams in the NFL possess. Vince Young is a dangerous runner and he can also throw the ball well to his talented band of receivers. Chris Johnson is truly one of the most amazing runners in the NFL. The Titans possess this triple threat that has the potential to frustrate defenses around the league. If opposing teams focus on stopping the run, Vince can pass the Titans down the field. If the opposition decides to blitz, VY has the ability to run with the ball and pick up good yardage. With CJ and VY in the same backfield, the potential and possibilities are innumerable.
When VY rolls right and CJ is behind him, Vince could throw the ball downfield, pitch it to CJ, or run with it himself. How difficult it would be to defend against this kind of triple threat offense. For some reason the Titans have not been using it during the first quarter of the season. Maybe it was due to a lack of trust in VY to execute it. It could have possibly been due to the Vince’s lack of confidence in himself. No one really knows for sure. We have all longed to see the Vince Young swagger that empowered him to lead the Longhorns to victory over USC and put him into college football immortality. Yesterday, we saw a glimpse of that swagger. Jeff Fisher had encouraged Young to trust his legs and run some more. In Dallas, he ran and threw for more and this allowed the Titans’ triple threat to be realized.
For the first time this season, Vince Young came out throwing and even airing out the long ball, which led to 2 touchdowns and field goal on Tennessee’s first three possessions. The Titans’ first drive ended with an outstanding catch in the end zone by Nate Washington. Later in the first half Kenny Britt hauled one in for a touchdown, one of his four catches for 86 receiving yards. Once the Cowboys realized that Tennessee’s passing threat was real and was putting points on the board, they stopped focusing on Chris Johnson, and this allowed him to have some big runs, rushing for 131 total yards.
The Titans controlled the game up until the Cowboys’ last possession of the first half. At the close of the first half, Tony Romo seemed unstoppable as he marched his team down the field for a touchdown, as he also did on the first possession of the second half to tie the game at 17. Romo led Dallas all the way down the field again in the 3rd quarter, but Michael Griffin’s interception in the end zone kept the Cowboys from gaining the lead. It would later prove to be a game saving catch.
VY marched the Titans back down the field, but the drive stalled and Rob Birones punched the ball in for 3, to give the Titan’s a 20-17 lead. The Cowboys returned fire as Romo and Jones led them right back down the field to the Titan 3 yard line. The Titan’s, who are ranked #1 in red zone defense, stopped the Cowboys 3 yards short of a touchdown, and Dallas decided to tie it at 20.
On Tennessee’s next set of downs, CJ broke free for 42 yards, but the drive again stalled, and Brett Kern had to punt. A minute later, Tony Romo’s pass was intercepted by Alterraun Verner and returned to the one yard line. On the next play, CJ gave the Titans the lead 27-20, but Romo, and his gang of three - Williams, Austin, and Witten, moved all the way down the field in 3 minutes to even the score at 27 with 4:36 seconds left. The Cowboys’ excessive celebration in the end zone may have cost Dallas the game.
All day long, David Buehler’s kickoffs had been landing back in the end zone for touchbacks. The fifteen yard penalty was assessed on the kickoff, which forced him to kick from the 25, instead of the 40. This gave Marc Mariani the chance he’d been waiting for all day, and he responded by returning the kickoff 73 yards to the Dallas 11. A minute later, CJ put the Titans ahead for good 34-27.
The Titan’s defense held on for dear life, as Romo tried to make another Rodeo City Miracle. With 47 seconds left in the game, Stephen Tulloch intercepted Romo’s pass and put the Titans in a 4 way tie for first place in the AFC South Division. Tennessee travels to Jacksonville to battle with the Jaguars next Monday night, when the nation gets a chance to see the Titans’ triple threat and a little VY swagger.