By Chris Lambos
For many armchair General Managers, Matt Leinert was THE PICK in the 2006 NFL Draft. But for one reality NFL team owner, Vince Young was ‘Numero Uno’ (which spells ‘Number One’ in an Italian Dictionary and ‘DA MAN’ on Bud Adam’s 2006 Draft Cheat Sheet).
I don’t have to tell you what the initials VY mean to USC Trojan faithful, but that same sentiment is now shared by Arizona Cardinal fans and players. Those feelings are not felt any stronger than by Cardinal backup signal caller Matt Leinert.
The last time Leinert played against Vince Young was on January 4, 2006 in the BCS Champinship Game in the Rose Bowl. To recap what happened that evening, USC was leading 38-26 with 6:42 left in the 4th Qtr. Vince Young put together an 8-play 69 yard drive which the last 17 yards being a Vince Young rushing TD at the 4:03 mark. The Longhorn defense held the Trojans and Vince got another shot of winning the game trailing 38-33. After 9 plays and seconds on the clock, the Longhorns were looking at 4th down and goal (8 yards to the goal line). Vince pump fakes left and runs to the right, crossing the goal line with 19 seconds left on the clock. He also ran in the 2-point conversion, beating the Trojans 41-38.
Fast forward to November 29, 2009. The Titans host the Arizona Cardinals at LP Field and like 2006, VY must deliver nothing short of a miracle. With 2:37 left in the game and trailing 17-13, the Titans find themselves backed up to their own 1-yard line. Young takes the offense 99 yards in 18-plays. With the Titans ooking at 4th and 10 from the Cardinals 10 yard line, Young finds rookie Kenny Britt in the end zone with 6 seconds remaining. Britt holds on to the jump ball as he’s hit by two Cardinals and the Titans win 20-17. Young completed 27 of 43 passes for 387 yards. That’s no typo, Titan fans!!! His 387 yard performance – marks a career best. Just as surprising, he only rushed for 8 yards and was sacked 4 times (no typo there either).
Chris Johnson continues his journey to a 2000 yard rushing season adding 154 yards on 18 carries to his totals. Johnson’s highlight reel contribution was a 55 yard TD score. Britt pulled down 7 catches for 128 yards and a TD to lead all Titan receivers.
VY Note: Vince Young spread the ball around, passing to 8 different players.
This Titan game was one of the best I’ve witnessed – second only to the Music City Miracle game with Buffalo. I’ve been very critical of Vince Young for a few years now but I must be totally honest: He is a totally different player. His maturity level has risen. His patience in the pocket is remarkable. His decision making….his passing accuracy…his entire game has improved by miraculous proportions. One must wonder if the loss of Steve McNair has affected Young in a positive way, or perhaps he is reaping the benefits of studying Kerry Collins and the game in general while spending one ‘humbling’ year on the bench. No matter which theory you ascribe to, Vince Young is back and better than ever! Enjoy!