- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2006

The rookie quarterback outdueled the old veteran. And a running back who began the year as a reserve rode a youthful offensive line to shred a once-respected defense.

The Tennessee Titans came into FedEx Field winless in five games. They left after a savvy performance from quarterback Vince Young and a career game from running back Travis Henry with their first victory of the season.

In the process, they dealt a major blow to the Washington Redskins’ hopes for this season.

“I still can’t even believe it,” said receiver Brandon Jones, whose 3-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter helped the Titans cut their deficit to 14-13. “I may pause for a minute and go out there and look at the scoreboard one more time.”

The Titans scored a season-high 25 points and rolled up 344 yards on offense. Henry ran for a career-high 178 yards, finding gaping holes in the defense and routinely putting the Titans in excellent position with big runs on first down.

Young, making only his third NFL start, showed enough poise and made enough good decisions to rally the Titans from an early 14-3 deficit.

“You can see him getting more confident,” Jones said. “You can see in the way he carries himself. He’s beginning to be a leader.”

No play demonstrated the Titans’ rising confidence and the Redskins’ futility more than a punt midway through the third quarter. The Redskins faced a fourth-and-5 at their own 25-yard line. Derrick Frost took the snap, and the Titans’ Casey Cramer broke through the line untouched to block the kick. The ball bounced out of the end zone, and the Titans had a safety and a 22-14 lead.

“Our team grew up today, and I am awfully proud of that,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “We obviously were able to stay with the game plan and run the football and protect our quarterback for the most part and make some plays on special teams. And the defense has given up some plays, but they didn’t let those first two drives get to them. And I think that was the key.”

Down 14-3, Young and Henry took control of the contest behind a dominating offensive line that exploited the absence of the Redskins’ starting defensive tackles, the injured Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave’a.

Henry took full advantage of the mismatch. The 5-foot-9, 215-pound back from the University of Tennessee averaged 5.6 yards a carry and scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run.

“The offensive line played great today,” said Henry, whose previous career best was a 169-yard effort for the Buffalo Bills against the New York Jets in 2003. “I just went to my entry point, made my read and let my natural ability take over. We played great today.”

And it was the inexperienced Titans who looked like the mature group in the final moments.

The Redskins tied the score at 22-22 with 10:57 remaining in the fourth quarter but followed that with two three-and-out possessions. The Titans, however, drove 30 yards to set up Rob Bironas’ game-winning field goal with 5:15 left.

The Titans’ defense ensured the upset on the Redskins’ final drive when Lamont Thompson intercepted a pass from Mark Brunell in the final minute.

“I believe in where we are going,” said Fisher, in his 11th season with the Titans. “I didn’t think it would take this long to get there. We deserve to enjoy it.”

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