Change for the better: Titans take advantage of takeaways

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 8:09pm

Only Vince Young knows for sure how much it hurt when he got bent backward during while his left leg was caught under him.

All anyone else knows is that the pain was enough to make him drop the ball.

“In that situation, (holding on to the ball) is tough,” coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s happened a few times around the league, but that’s hard to do.  Especially the way his leg got pinned below him.”

It could have been a game-changing moment in Monday’s critical divisional matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. An injury to the starting quarterback coupled with a turnover (officials ruled Jacksonville recovered Young’s fumble) – all at once and fewer than seven minutes into the contest.

The Titans, already ahead 7-0, went ahead and changed quarterbacks. Then Fisher asked for a video review, which changed the result of the play when it was determined Young’s knee was down before the ball came out.

After that the Titans’ defense created four takeaways while Kerry Collins and the rest of the offense held on to the ball at every opportunity. The result was a 30-3 victory, which kept Tennessee tied for first place in the AFC South and improved their turnover ratio for the season to plus-4, which is seventh-best in the league.

“It’s been the big difference in our success, is our ability to get the ball back—and we’ve been real good at protecting it,” Fisher said. “We were minus-5 after Pittsburgh (in Week 2) and we’re already plus-4.  We have been able to hang on to the football and get it back, and the defense is doing a good job.”

Tennessee (4-2) currently is tied for second in the league with 10 interceptions and is just outside the top 10 with four fumble recoveries. Safety Michael Griffin, who had the first interception Monday, is tied for second in the league with three.

A year ago this time the Titans were 0-6 with a minus-10 turnover ratio following a 59-0 loss (and a minus-5 on turnovers) at New England. They finished with 20 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries, which mean’s they already are halfway or more to their 2009 totals in each regard.

They took advantage of an injury to Jacksonville’s starting quarterback, David Garrard, and had two interceptions against his replacement Trent Edwards.

Collins, conversely, made few mistakes as he completed all but five of his 16 passess attempts and directed four scoring drives – three field goals, one touchdown.

“Kerry was fine,” Fisher said. “He understands what we’re doing, and he’s at the age where he is ready to come off the bench and play without much practice time.  One would assume if he gets more practice time this week, it will just help him to be more effective.”

With a short week to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles (noon, LP Field), Tennessee’s quarterback situation is uncertain. Young is considered day-to-day – tests revealed a sprained knee and ankle – but is not likely to practice Wednesday.

“I could stand up here and say that he’s lucky,” Fisher said. “He’s got just a mild knee sprain and he’s got an ankle sprain—he’s sore.”

He’s also lucky that knee went down when it did.