The Oakland Raiders made up their minds to try and stop Chris Johnson in Sunday's 38-13 Tennessee Titans victory.
The Raiders put eight and sometimes nine men in the box to try and load up and stop the Titans' star running back.
That meant early on that it was up to Vince Young and the Tennessee passing game to loosen up the Raiders and provide the Titans with another way to move the football.
Mission accomplished as Young completed 13 of 17 passes for 154 yards with two touchdowns, including a 56-yarder to Nate Washington that gave the Titans a 7-3 lead.
In fact, Young's 142.8 passer rating was the highest of his NFL career in a game where he played from start to finish. Last year, he posted a 156.2 passer rating against the St. Louis Rams, but exited after just eight passes in that game.
Young also added another 30 yards on seven rushes, including a 20-yard run off an option play in the first half.
“He's a lot more comfortable in the things he can do,” Washington said. “He's not just going to be Vince Young, the guy who can run anymore. He has a lot of ability and a lot of different attributes to him. And we're going to help him show those things off.”
As much as anything too, Young showed a maturity in an ability to bounce back from a mistake. Young was hit by Oakland's Kamerion Wimbley and fumbled early in the game, a problem that plagued him some in preseason as well. The Raiders converted it into Sebastian Janikowski's 34-yard field goal for a quick 3-0 lead.
“Mike [Roos] just came up to me and told me he got my as I was sliding up,” Young said of the fumble. “It happened, but at the same time we have to keep playing.”
And so Young did, bouncing right back with the TD toss to Washington off a play-action fake to Johnson.
“They bit down pretty hard on it, great fake by me and CJ in the backfield. Ahmard [Hall] did a great job of coming out in the flat and drawing their attention and leaving Nate wide open,” Young said.
Teammates are taking notice of Young's improvement as well.
“I just think he's more comfortable with the offense,” said tight end Bo Scaife, who caught the other Young TD pass, a 1-yarder. “He's been through a whole lot in his first five years in the league, and I know there is nothing that would mean more to him this year than to win games and lead this team to the playoffs.”
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