One Last Look at the Titans Game-Winning Drive: Analysis and What Ifs

December 2, 2009 by

I want to take one last look at the final drive of the Titans-Cardinals clash that is already an instant classic, and another stunning moment in the Vince Young legacy.

As a fan of the losing team, it is easy to criticize in hindsight when things didn’t go your way, but I thought it might be therapeutic to add my notes of what I was thinking during the drive.

We’ve gotta put this baby to rest so we can get prepared for the Vikings.59031795

Tennessee Titans at 2:37    ARI    TEN
1st and 10 at TEN 1    V.Young pass short right to K.Britt to TEN 7 for 6 yards (D.Rodgers-Cromartie).
2nd and 4 at TEN 7    V.Young pass incomplete short right to B.Scaife.
3rd and 4 at TEN 7    (Shotgun) V.Young pass incomplete short right to K.Britt (D.Rodgers-Cromartie).

At this point, Cardinals Nation was thinking, just one more stop and we go home with the win. Me personally I was thinking bring the house, all out blitz on this 4th and 4 and force Young’s hand before he can react.

If he is fortunate enough to react and get a pass away that is completed, have one of the fastest players around in DRC playing off enough to have an angle to prevent the huge TD run after catch. Heck put Greg Toler in the game and have two blazing speedsters in safety valve mode.

Instead, the Cardinals rush 3 and rely on their biggest weakness—pass coverage—to make a stop in the biggest moment of the game. I don’t get that at all. If you have 4 sacks in the game, THAT is your strength, so use it.

Even then Bryant McFadden was in decent enough coverage, except as he has been prone to do, didn’t turn around to make a play on the ball and Britt made a nice catch.

4th and 4 at TEN 7    (Shotgun) V.Young pass short left to K.Britt to TEN 17 for 10 yards (B.McFadden).
1st and 10 at TEN 17    (No Huddle, Shotgun) V.Young pass short middle to B.Scaife to TEN 36 for 19 yards (B.McFadden, A.Wilson).

The completion to Bo Scaife was an unfortunate fluke that happens, there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes the ball bounces the wrong way.

This could have easily been an INT and ended the game. Instead, a tipped pass by an Arizona defender floated directly into the arms of Scaife. This reminded me of the Giants game where DRC’s nice play resulted in his tip fluttering into the hands of Hakeem Nicks who scored on the play.

At least this time he didn’t score, I thought.

1st and 10 at TEN 36    (No Huddle, Shotgun) V.Young pass short left to L.Hawkins pushed ob at TEN 38 for 2 yards (B.McFadden).
2nd and 8 at TEN 38    (Shotgun) V.Young pass short left to J.Cook ran ob at 50 for 12 yards.

Alright, what kind of crazy karma or some such is going on here? I have been waiting ALL YEAR for the Titans to utilize Jared Cook, why oh why do they have to do it on a game winning drive that beats my team in a heart-breaker?

Cook is an athletic freak that SteveSpurrier compared to Calvin Johnson in college, and I got so amped up about him I made him one of my Top 5 Fantasy Sleepers. I even took a flier on him and drafted him late. My fantasy team has suffered this season, and how ironic that Cook was helping beat my Cardinals with two of the best plays of his young career.
1st and 10 at 50    (Shotgun) V.Young pass incomplete deep left to N.Washington.
2nd and 10 at 50    (Shotgun) V.Young scrambles right end pushed ob at ARZ 44 for 6 yards (M.Adams).
3rd and 4 at ARI 44    (Shotgun) V.Young pass incomplete short right to B.Scaife [D.Dockett].

Stop them here boys! Stop them and we go home.

4th and 4 at ARI 44    (Shotgun) V.Young pass short left to L.Hawkins pushed ob at ARZ 31 for 13 yards (M.Adams).

1st and 10 at ARI 31    (Shotgun) V.Young pass short left to B.Scaife ran ob at ARZ 26 for 5 yards.
2nd and 5 at ARI 26    (Shotgun) V.Young pass incomplete deep left to N.Washington.
3rd and 5 at ARI 26    (Shotgun) V.Young pass short middle to J.Cook pushed ob at ARZ 9 for 17 yards (R.Brown).

Again, thanks for nothing, Jared.
Timeout #1 by ARZ at 00:21.
1st and 9 at ARI 9    (Shotgun) V.Young pass incomplete short middle to B.Scaife.
2nd and 9 at ARI 9    (Shotgun) V.Young sacked at ARZ 10 for -1 yards (sack split by C.Campbell and C.Haggans).
Timeout #2 by TEN at 00:11.
3rd and 10 at ARI 10    (Shotgun) V.Young pass incomplete short middle to N.Washington.
Timeout #3 by TEN at 00:06.
Timeout #2 by ARZ at 00:06.

Stop them here fellas and we can forget about the other 89 yards.
4th and 10 at ARI 10    (Shotgun) V.Young pass short middle to K.Britt for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN.    17    19
R.Bironas extra point is GOOD, Center-K.Amato, Holder-B.Kern.    17    20
DRIVE TOTALS: ARI 17, TEN 20, 18 plays, 99 yards, 2:37 elapsed

Tennessee Titans at 0:00    ARI    TEN
End of Game

I have to admit, I felt surprisingly not filled with dread after the play, and the drive by Young. I watched a guy with determination earn that win. It was a heroic drive, and I had just witnessed maybe the best game of the year to date. I was disappointed, but not distraught.

Also, I know the Cardinals can’t win every time out and had been 6-1 in their last 7 games. They were due for a loss. Unlike many, I was glad they lost a game like this as opposed to in a blowout. I was glad that someone genuinely beat us instead of us beating ourselves which is how we normally lose. And I am glad it took everything the Titans could muster to get the job done. They earned it but we didn’t just bow down and hand it to them.

Not only that, but the Cardinals were laying out Titans all over the field all game long. Hopefully by exposing our two biggest weaknesses—leaving receivers wide open (sometimes) and not being able to stop long drives when we need to the most (sometimes), it will bring back that familiar nasty taste that we had after the Super Bowl loss.

The difference is that now we can use the fresh memory of that taste to motivate us to want to rinse it out at the expense of the Vikings. After theSteelers game, there were no opportunities to allow us to get that feeling out of our system.

Maybe, just maybe having this painful loss now will help get our minds right for another Super Bowl run.

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    5 Responses to “One Last Look at the Titans Game-Winning Drive: Analysis and What Ifs”
    • James Williamson says:

      Dude, relax. If Warner had played, you would have destroyed them. Just hope for survival now. You should make the playoffs still. You’ll just have a 9-7 to 10-6 record.

    • Chris Farmer says:

      Hahaha, James do I sound too animated? Actually, if the Cardinals beat the Vikings, it is not unreasonable to get to 11-5. Lose to Vikings and it is less likely of course. Warner’s situation is worrisome though. He is still having issues with his eyes. Hard to expect Leinart to carry the team deep into the playoffs, but with Warner it is def. a possibility.

    • Todd says:

      Desipite Warner not playing, I think the Cards did very well. We always wonder if Leinart still has what it takes. He looked pretty good at camp. Now take this in consideration, Warner comes back on Sunday, feeling ready to play. We are up by 14 maybe 17 at the half. He takes a hard shot again and is out for the game. Now we have to put Leinart back in the second half. Possible loss? If Waner sits out a game like he did with Titans, then we stand a chance of loosing to SanFran.

    • Chris Farmer says:

      It is a crazy league, not much separates the winners and losers period. Sometimes all it takes is one team being more fired up than the other. It is almost impossible to know what will happen. That said, Leinart didn’t lose the Titans game, when he left the field for the last time we were winning. I think the same goes no matter the situation or opponent. I think he proved he can do his part, even if the Cardinals aren’t quite as explosive with him under center. I’m not actually that worried at all. If the defense does their part, and the O-line plays loads better than they did in the Colts game (easier said than done vs Jared Allen), then we can win with either QB. Btw I am pulling for the Seahawks this weekend too ;)

    • Todd says:

      I’m for the Hawks as well. Should be a good game with them at home and being a Div game. Good battle

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