The scoreboard may show losing numbers for the Tennessee Titans (23-17) to the Cleveland Browns, but the stuff that matters left Titans fans and staff at ease on Saturday night. Especially considering the fact that the Browns played their starters most of the game, and the Titans second, third, and fourth stringers held in there and almost pulled out a win over the Browns starters.
In a game where Kerry Collins would not have new favorite target Nate Washington at wide receiver due to injury, he was relieved that center Kevin Mawae would make his preseason debut to give the veteran quarterback a little more time to find open receivers—which is exactly what he did.
Collins played all but the last drive of the first half, going 11-of-14 with 102 yards and one touchdown coming off a six-yard score to Justin Gage who made a beautiful catch in the end zone, making up for a wide-open dropped pass a few plays earlier.
Collins also showed great poise when dropping a snap, recovering it, and throwing a pass up the middle to running back Chris Johnson for a big gain. Collins has completed 19 of his last 25 pass attempts, showing great signs for a Titans offense that had a struggling passing game last season.
The Titans leading receiver was Gage, who had six receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown, proving that he will be a huge piece of the passing game this season. Tight end Jared Cook also had some impressive catches with five receptions for 39 yards, but he left the game a little banged up.
The Titans running game wasn't as explosive as it has been remembered to be, but it was productive. Johnson had seven carries for 27 yards with some decent four to six-yard carries. A slimmed down LenDale White showed some new speed and moves with four carries for 20 yards.
It is preseason, so it seems the Titans are more getting their backs in the swing of things rather than breakaway home run carries. Consistency is all coach Jeff Fisher was looking for in this game, and he got it.
The Titans defensive starters looked pretty good as usual. Safety Michael Griffin was the only starter able to come up with a sack tonight. But after Dallas ran all over the Titans last week, it was good to see Tennessee hold Browns running back Jamal Lewis to short yardage.
Early in the second quarter, the Browns were threatening in the Titans' red zone, but the defense held up and left the Browns settling for a field goal.
Saturday's game was a very important one for Vince Young. He is currently competing with Patrick Ramsey for the backup quarterback position.
Young came in at the end of the first half to run a two-minute drill in which he looked very confident, going 7-of-9 for 56 yards, until he attempted to run a three-yard touchdown and fumbled the ball at the goal line just before halftime.
Young played the rest of the game and ended up 17-of-24 with 174 yards, one touchdown, but one crucial interception thrown that went back for a touchdown, which proved to be the decisive score.
Young came back after that interception, though, driving the Titans down the field and throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Mulligan. This is a good sign that Young decided to go back out to try to strike back instead of going to the sideline and letting the interception sit in the front of his mind.
The Cleveland Browns offense finally reached the end zone, but that was in the third quarter with the Browns starters facing all Titans backups.
The final score may show a Cleveland Browns win, but the Titans feel confident with what the starting line was able to accomplish, and the attitude with which Young conducted himself after a few mistakes. He may have left the "Dawg Pound" with a loss, but he also left with pride, and some decent numbers to back it up.