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Walk Off Touchdown!


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Monday, 12/11/06


Walk-off home run

Young rushes 39 yards for game-winning TD in return to Houston



Staff Writer



HOUSTON — As a resident of this city, retired Titans offensive lineman Bruce Matthews heard the buzz all week about Vince Young's homecoming.


Just before the final play of Sunday's Titans-Texans game at Reliant Stadium, Matthews had a feeling something big was about to happen.



"I told my son, 'He is either going to be the goat or the hero on this play,' '' said Matthews, who watched from the Titans sideline. "The moment he took off, I went, 'Hero!' ''


Indeed. Houston had a problem. He was wearing No. 10.


Making his hometown debut as an NFL player, the rookie quarterback ran 39 yards for a touchdown in overtime to give the Titans a 26-20 victory over the Texans.


It was the fourth consecutive win for the Titans (6-7) and their third dramatic win in a row.


Already under fire in the Lone Star state for passing up the former Texas Longhorns sensation in the NFL Draft, the Texans (4-9) remained goats for their decision to blitz the elusive Young on the deciding play.


"You couldn't have written a better script for Vince, to come back home and win like that,'' Titans guard Jacob Bell said. "It was a storybook finish for him, like a movie script. A perfect ending, both for him and the team.''


The Texans hardly could believe their eyes as the Titans swept them for the second year in a row.


"It was one of the worst feelings you could possibly have,'' Texans defensive end Antwan Peek said. "It was an absolute nightmare.''


'Walk-off touchdown'


Young had led the Titans to a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, only to see the Texans tie the game on a late field goal.


Facing a third-and-14 at the Houston 39 in overtime, the Texans decided to send extra rushers after Young instead of dropping back into coverage, which is what they did most the day.


Young noticed, stepped up in the pocket and took off downfield, picking up a few key blocks along the way.


"I felt like my mom was chasing me with a belt,'' Young said. "I saw the lane and used my God-given talents to make things happen.''

Said Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck: "I've never heard of a walk-off touchdown, but that is what happened.''


The game-winning run capped an emotional week for Young, who played his high school football in Houston.


He threw the football into the stands and blew kisses to the fans, many of whom were wearing Young spamshirts. He pointed to the sky, then was swarmed by teammates. After an interview on the field, he weaved through cameramen and reporters as a good portion of the 70,760 fans in attendance stuck around to applaud him again.


"It was a great ending, being from Houston and being in front of my family and the fans out there,'' Young said. "It doesn't get much better than that.''


Hoping for field goal


Titans Coach Jeff Fisher said he was just hoping to get into field-goal range on the final play. Kicker Rob Bironas was readying for what could have been his third game-winning kick in three weeks. He never got the chance.


"All we wanted was 8 yards,'' Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "You were hoping he would get enough for a field goal and then you say, 'Keep going! Go young man!' ''


"I never want to give Vince Young his props or the recognition he deserves, but he made me a believer on that last play,'' Texans defensive end N.D. Kalu said. "I didn't know if I wanted to throw my helmet or cry.''Behind their rookie leader, the Titans fought back after trailing 14-6 in the third quarter and 17-13 in the fourth.


Young finished 19-of-29 passing for 218 yards and a touchdown, and the overtime touchdown run gave him 86 rushing yards. He's now 6-4 as a starter and the Titans have won six of their last eight games.


"To stand out in the NFL is so difficult, and as a rookie he stands out already," Matthews said. "He is so exciting to watch. He is just amazing, really


"From a Houston Texans perspective, well, this was about the worst thing that could happen, for him to come back and do what he did.''


Reach Jim Wyatt at jwyatt@tennessean.com or (615) 259-801

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