Winning Ugly: Titans defeat Falcons 20-13

Thankfully, for Jeff Fisher and the 2007 Tennessee Titans, there are no style points awarded in the NFL.
Yesterday’s gruesome 20-13 victory over the struggling Atlanta Falcons was an ugly performance that consisted of 5 Tennessee turnovers, a futile rushing attack and a surprisingly erratic game by Vince Young. The special teams unit was anything but special, giving up a fake punt, muffing a punt that put Atlanta in a position to potentially tie the game, and allowing Jerious Norwood to average 48 yards per kick return. The kicking game was not exempt from the special teams’ struggles, as the usually reliable Rob Bironas missed a field goal that would have given the Titans a ten point fourth quarter lead.
Fortunately for the Titans, one phase of the football team performed extremely well: the defense. Vincent Fuller scored the game-winning touchdown with a scintillating 76 yard interception return. Albert Haynesworth’s superb performance consisted of a remarkable goal line play at the end of the game where he leaped and disrupted a handoff, resulting in an 8 yard loss on the play.
Entering the game, the Titans were allowing opponents to attain first downs on 47% of their 3rd down opportunities. Yesterday, the Titans’ defense dominated the Falcons on third down conversions, allowing them to move the chains on only 22% (4/18) of their third downs. By preventing the Falcons from sustaining drives on a hot Sunday afternoon when the Titans’ offense failed to dominate the time of possession battle, the Titans’ defense was a fresh unit at the end of the game when their stellar play was needed the most.
Good football teams possess the ability to occasionally overcome their own, self-made adversities to win football games. For example, the 2000 Tennessee Titan squad that ended up with the best record in the NFL (13-3) had an eerily similar performance that season against the Cleveland Browns, a 24-10 victory in which the Titans turned the ball over 7 times and were bailed out by a strong defensive performance.
As the case with that Titans team, the current Titans were a resilient bunch yesterday, overcoming their own mistakes and emerging victorious in an ugly contest that could have easily ended up as a defeat.

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