Life in the NFL
Because of history, the Houston game is a big one for Vince and the entire Titans team
OUR fourth straight win and our third straight nail biter. Another last minute victory by the Tennessee Titans.
Another big play late in the game to put us over the edge. Another reason to be a Titans fan. This was a big game for us. There was a lot more riding on the game than just a win in the win column. The background and story lines to this game were enough motivation for any team, and by game time, we were fired up for the contest.
First, the Houston game is always important for our organization because our franchise originated in Houston as the Oilers as part of the old American Football league back in 1959. Houston entered the NFL as part of the merger of the American and National Football Leagues in 1970, and stayed in Houston until 1997, when it moved to Tennessee to become the Titans.
Houston, despite its record, is a very good team, with a lot of weapons, including QB David Carr. Our coaches emphasized all week that David would be looking to make a statement against us after being criticized for his play in previous weeks. David is capable of putting together a huge game any given Sunday, so we knew we had to try and stop him in order to contain their offense. Our defense has been playing well and we didn't want anybody having a big game on us.
Finally there was the Vince Young factor. Having played high school ball in Houston and college ball at the University of Texas, Vince had become (and still is) a hometown hero in the state of Texas and the city of Houston. Coming out of Texas following Vince's junior year, there was a lot of speculation that the Texans would take Vince with the 1st overall pick. Some critics, especially local ones, questioned the Texans move of passing on both Vince and Reggie with the 1st pick to select DE Mario Williams out of North Carolina State.
People in Houston may not be happy with the Texans passing on Reggie and Vince, but they got one hell of a player in Mario Williams who, in my opinion, will be visiting you all in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl in the near future.
Regardless of where Vince got selected (3rd overall), what both Houston and New Orleans missed on was what we now have in Vince -- our quarterback of the future.
The Titans organization, from front office to the players, wanted to make sure Vince's homecoming was a success. Vince wanted to make sure he didn't leave Houston with anything less than a win. I didn't get to follow Vince's career at Texas, but I did watch that 2006 Rose Bowl game against USC last year. Vince was absolutely unstoppable in that game against USC, especially running the ball.
As a defender, it is very hard to find an answer to a quarterback that can be as effective running the ball as he is passing. It causes the defense to soften a little in the passing game, as the secondary and linebackers have to worry about the quarterback scrambling. It can be demoralizing for a defense when a QB scrambles for a first down on a 3rd and long play following two big stops. Houston never gave up, but Vince was able to hurt them and hurt them big using his incredible athlete ability.
We started off the game slow, exchanging leads with the Texans until they tied it up with just under 4 minutes to go in regulation. After winning the toss and accepting to receive, Pacman, as he has done all year, had a big 36-yard kick return to put us in great field position. After a couple of first downs, we were facing a third-and-long situation from the Houston 39-yard-line.
And just as he did in the '06 Rose Bowl, and he has done for us all year, Vince took the game into his own hands, pulling the ball down in a passing play to scramble 39 yards for the touchdown. The run was reminiscent of his runs in that National Championship game, and as it did for Texas in '06, it gave us the win against the Texans last Sunday.
We have a daunting task ahead of us against Vince (Manuwai), Chad (Owens) and the Jacksonville Jaguars. With all their offensive weapons, Maurice Jones-Drew, David Garrard, Fred Taylor, and the slew of talented WRs they have, the Jags put up 44 points on the Colts last week.
On the other side of the ball, their defense is one of the best in the NFL, led by CB Rashean Mathis, as well as arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. Last time we faced the Jags, they embarrassed us 37-7.
But we are a much better team than we were back then. We are confident that we can play with and beat any team in the NFL and look forward to the game this Sunday. The Jags will certainly be favored, but don't sleep on the Titans. As we see every Sunday, and have seen the last four games, anything can happen.
Former UH lineman Travis LaBoy is chronicling his season with the Tennessee Titans for the Star-Bulletin