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Dwarfed by Titans PRO FOOTBALL WEEK 6

October 16, 2006 12:50 am

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Tennessee's Travis Henry (left) was head and shoulders above Carlos Rogers and the Redskins, rushing for 178 yards. sp101506skins0021.jpg

A disappointed Redskins fan watches the Titans gain their first win at his team's expense. sp101506skins0008.jpg

Marcus Washington arrived a second too late on this play, getting flagged for a personal foul on Tennessee quarterback Vince Young. sp101506skins0004.jpg

Clinton Portis (26) gets a lift from tight end Christian Fauria after scoring the first of his two touchdowns yesterday.

By ADAM HIMMELSBACH
By ADAM HIMMELSBACH

LANDOVER, Md.--The catcalls started as a murmur but grew in volume and intensity, like a snowball rolling down a steep grade.

The Tennessee Titans were winless when they arrived at FedEx Field to face the Redskins yesterday afternoon. And before they knew it, they were trailing by 11 points.

But then something shifted, something changed. The Titans began to move the ball and the Redskins began to struggle.

On offense for Washington, there were fumbles and high passes. On defense, there were running lanes wide enough for a school bus.

And the crowd of 88,550 did not like any of it.

When a last-chance heave from Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell was swallowed by Tennessee's Lamont Thompson with 54 seconds left, solidifying the Titans' improbable 25-22 victory, the fans marched toward the exits and rained boos on the home team as they walked.

"I feel quite a bit of frustration, probably more than the fans do," Brunell said. "You know, we're the ones that are out there."

A season that was filled with such promise is now officially muddied. And the road ahead has its cracks and obstacles. The Redskins are now 2-4 and they're staring at next Sunday's road game against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts.

"Everyone on this team has to look and see what motivates them, whether it's making money, supporting your family or pride playing for each other," said Shawn Springs, who served as a nickelback yesterday after missing the season's first five games with abdominal and groin injuries. "Each player has to look inside and see what it is, what they play for. We've got to believe in each other, and I don't know if that's there yet."

The Redskins' defensive line was undermanned yesterday, as starting tackles Cornelius Griffin (hip) and Joe Salave'a (calf) did not play. Tennessee's offensive line cleared roomy holes for running back Travis Henry, who ran for a career-high 178 yards and a touchdown.

Titans rookie quarterback Vince Young, the star of the University of Texas' Rose Bowl victory less than one year ago, was calm and poised under center in just his third career start. The strong and agile quarterback was 13-for-25 for 161 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions.

Though the Redskins started quickly, their offense sputtered after the opening quarter. Washington coughed up four fumbles--losing two--and no running back or wide receiver gained more than 60 yards. Brunell, who had a toenail ripped off early in the second half, was 16-for-30 for 180 yards and threw one touchdown and one interception, and running back Clinton Portis scored twice.

Despite the boos, and the fumbles and the folly, the Redskins had an excellent chance to win this game. And for a time, it looked like they would.

The Titans had taken a 20-14 third-quarter lead on a 2-yard touchdown by Henry that was set up by a key 23-yard fourth-down pass from Young to Brandon Jones.

After Henry's tally, Tennessee's Casey Cramer blocked a Derrick Frost punt, and the ball rolled out of the end zone, resulting in a two-point safety that gave the Titans a 22-14 advantage.

"Casey is one of those guys that puts in a 12-hour day," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "He looks at everything and studies everything, and that was a huge play."

With 12:12 left in the fourth quarter, however, Brunell rocketed a 52-yard pass down the middle to Brandon Lloyd, who entered the game with just 75 receiving yards this season.

On second-and-goal from the 4, Portis took a pitch, motored to the right and cut across the goal line. Brunell found Santana Moss in the back of the end zone on the ensuing two-point conversion, and the score was tied at 22.

The Titans on their next possession were stopped after three plays, and Young injured his ankle on a third-down run.

"Things were changing a little bit," Brunell said. "We just didn't capitalize on it."

No, they didn't.

After a 1-yard run by Portis, two-straight Brunell passes fell incomplete, and the Redskins punted.

Young returned with his ankle heavily taped, and guided the Titans on a six-play drive that ended with a 30-yard field goal by Rob Bironas that gave the visitors a 25-22 edge.

Brunell trotted onto the field and fired three-straight incomplete passes. FedEx field turned into one big groan.

The Redskins got a final chance when they received a punt with 1:06 remaining, but Brunell's first-down heave was intercepted by Thompson.

Young took a knee to drain the clock, and Fisher hugged his players and pumped his fists. The Redskins, meanwhile, somberly walked toward their locker room.

"Obviously this is a huge, bitter disappointment for us," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said.

Tennessee

3

10

9

3

--

25

Washington

7

7

0

8

--

22

First Quarter

Ten--FG Bironas 32, 9:44.

Was--Portis 10 run (Novak kick), 4:17.

Second Quarter

Was--Cooley 24 pass from Brunell (Novak kick), 14:55.

Ten--FG Bironas 26, 9:37.

Ten--B.Jones 3 pass from Young (Bironas kick), 2:42.

Third Quarter

Ten--Henry 2 run (Bironas kick), 8:53.

Ten--Safety, Cramer blocks punt out of end zone, 7:17.

Fourth Quarter

Was--Portis 4 run (Moss pass from Brunell), 10:57.

Ten--FG Bironas 30, 5:11.

A--88,550.

TEAM STATISTICS

Ten

Was

First downs

21

18

Total Net Yards

344

305

Rushes-yards

41-194

26-125

Passing

150

180

Punt Returns

5-32

4-18

Kickoff Returns

5-94

5-115

Interceptions Ret.

1-11

0-0

Comp-Att-Int

13-25-0

16-30-1

Sacked-Yards Lost

4-11

0-0

Punts

7-42.1

7-34.3

Fumbles-Lost

2-0

4-1

Penalties-Yards

5-51

6-46

Time of Possession

35:40

24:20

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

RUSHING--Tennessee, Henry 32-178, Young 6-10, Brown 3-6. Washington, Portis 14-58, Moss 2-33, Randle El 2-18, Sellers 3-15, Brunell 3-3, Betts 2-(minus 2).

PASSING--Tennessee, Young 13-25-0-161. Washington, Brunell 16-30-1-180.

RECEIVING--Tennessee, Bennett 3-60, B.Jones 3-34, Wade 2-36, Henry 2-3, Williams 1-20, Scaife 1-6, Hall 1-2. Washington, Moss 5-50, Portis 5-17, Cooley 2-27, Betts 2-18, Lloyd 1-52, Randle El 1-16.

MISSED FIELD GOALS--None.

To reach ADAM HIMMELSBACH: 540/374-5442
Email: ahimmelsbach@freelancestar.com




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