LANDOVER, Md. (AP)—Vince Young took his time making sure his pinstripe suit was on just right. He even asked a member of the Tennessee Titans staff to straighten the turquoise tie with the lavender floral pattern.
The rookie had finally won a game in the NFL, 25-22 over Washington on Sunday, and he wanted to look as good as he felt.
“It means a whole lot to me,” said the No. 3 overall draft pick. “Just last week, I was real upset. I thought we were better than 0-5.”
“I just think it’s real important right now that our club understands how this feels, because it’s been a long time,” said coach Jeff Fisher, whose team was buoyed by last week’s 14-13 close call against Indianapolis. “They deserved to win this game.”
Perhaps nobody on the Titans (1-5) felt the sting of the losing streak worse than the quarterback who went 30-2 at the University of Texas. On Wednesday, he said he was anxious and miserable, so his teammates on Sunday were more than ready to celebrate the first victory of a rebuilding team’s new era.
“This is huge for Vince, man. He’s not used to losing,” said offensive lineman Jacob Bell, who moved from right tackle to left guard for the second straight week and helped produce 194 yards rushing. “We need to keep this thing rolling.”
Young, making his third start, completed 13 of 25 passes for 161 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, easily his best day as a pro. He played much of the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle after getting hurt on a scramble.
Young connected with seven receivers, and no throw was more clutch than his 23-yard pass to Brandon Jones on a fourth-and-2, keeping a drive alive that led to a touchdown that put the Titans ahead 20-14 in the third quarter.
The Titans are already in the also-ran category for the season, and the Redskins (2-4) are headed that way as well. A team that boldly spoke of Super Bowl aspirations before the season has only one victory in regulation, against woeful Houston, and now must live with the humiliation of being beaten by a winless team with a rookie quarterback.
Coach Joe Gibbs called the loss a “huge, bitter disappointment.” Right tackle Jon Jansen acknowledged the booing crowd by saying: “We didn’t give them anything to stay behind us.”
“Losing to an 0-5 team, that’s disappointing,” said cornerback Shawn Springs, who made his season debut after missing five games with abdomen and groin injuries. “And everybody says, ‘Oh yeah, it’s the NFL. Anything can happen.’ No, uh-uh. It ain’t supposed to be like that. We’re supposed to beat that team at home if we want to be the team we want to be.”
Travis Henry carried 32 times against a defensive line that started two rookies at tackle because of injuries. His 2-yard dive gave the Titans a six-point lead in the third quarter. Casey Cramer then blocked a punt, and the ball rolled out of the end zone for a safety that made the score 22-14.
The Redskins rallied early in the fourth period with a touchdown set up by a 52-yard pass to Brandon Lloyd—only the eighth catch of the season for an offseason acquisition who had been a major disappointment. Clinton Portis scored on a 4-yard run, and Mark Brunell hit Santana Moss for the 2-point conversion to tie the score with 10:57 remaining.
The Titans weren’t rattled. The winning points came after a short punt by Derrick Frost was returned 14 yards by Adam “Pacman” Jones to the Redskins 43. Five consecutive running plays moved the ball in position for Bironas’ 30-yarder.
“The running game, it set the tone,” said Henry, who ran for 123 yards last week. “What we did last week against Indy, it was great. But coming into Washington and having a repeat, it’s just letting people know we’re for real.”
The Redskins’ final drive ended when Lamont Thompson intercepted Brunell in the final minute.
Brunell had his toenail ripped off early in the second half and was limping badly on the sideline at one point, but he never missed a down. His play suffered, however. He was 11-for-14 in the first half and 5-for-16 in the second. He threw for 180 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Portis carried 14 times for 58 yards and two touchdowns.
For the first time in franchise history, the Titans wore navy jerseys and navy pants. “It looked great out there today, huh?” Henry said. “Maybe we need to wear blue-on-blue at home.” … Redskins DTs Cornelius Griffin (hip) and Joe Salave’a (calf) missed the game. Rookies Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery started. … Redskins CB Carlos Rogers broke his thumb.