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Hometown flavor helps Titans taste victory

Hometown flavor helps Titans taste victory
NASHVILLE — Led by players who would not probably be in the situation during the regular season, two hometown products had the opportunity to be major factors in the Tennessee Titans’ 17-16 preseason victory over the visiting Oakland Raiders Friday night.
Quarterback Ingle Martin, a MBA graduate, directed the final drive while Jon Vaughn, a Brentwood Academy grad, booted the game-winning field goal from 33 yards out as time expired to give account for the one-point win.
“The most important thing about the preseason is finding ways to win ballgames and that is what we did,” said Titans coach Jeff Fisher said in the opening statement of his post-game news conference. “It started to look pretty bleak at the end, but the guys stepped up and made the plays.”
The Titans appeared headed for a 1-1 home record in their preseason. Oakland had taken a 16-14 lead with 5:33 remaining on Aaron Elling’s third field goal of the game, 45 yards with 5:19 left. The Raiders were on their way to a clinching touchdown but turned the ball over with a fumble at Tennessee’s 3-yardline with 2:10 left.
Martin, who signed with Florida and finished at I-AA Furman, completed four passes on the drive, the last to Chris Davis for 26 yards to Oakland’s 15. Out of timeouts, the Titans were able to get to the line of scrimmage and Martin spiked the ball, leaving two seconds on the clock for Vaughn, a former high school rival, to make the kick.
Vaughn, a former Auburn standout, is subbing for injured all-pro kicker Rob Bironas. Vaughn booted his third field goal of the preseason to put the finishing touches on the win.
While pleased with the win, Fisher did not display the same satisfaction after the second game that he had after a 34-13 victory over St. Louis the previous week. The Titans running game posted large numbers in the opener. In the second contest, work on the passing game was a priority but starter Vince Young was only 4-of-13 for 37 yards.
Backup Kerry Collins was 4-of-15, but had a 51-yard scoring strike to Lavelle Hawkins in the third period. The other Titans score came as a result of special teams play as Ahmad Hall recovered a fumble punt return in the end zone of a touchdown late in the second period.
The final statistics ended up close to even as the final score. Tennessee ended with 368 yards offense while Oakland had 380 yards.
JaMarcus Russell, the ex-LSU star, was 10-of-17 for 75 yards for one score in his playing time.
“I don’t feel the same way that I felt after last week,” Fisher said. “I think we played a slightly better opponent that was better prepared to play, but we didn’t execute like we need to execute.
“We’re going to be OK. Maybe it is best that this type of thing happened to us today because we still have some work to do.”
The Titans will now go on the road for their final two preseason contests, beginning Friday night in Atlanta against the Falcons.
Notes: Rookie receiver Lavelle Hawkins had an MRI on an ankle. Coach Jeff Fisher said they had put the receiver into a walking boot but didn’t have the results back from the test.
Linebacker Keith Bulluck hurt his calf in the game.
Fisher said he is expecting tight end Dwayne Blakley (groin) back at practice along with cornerback Nick Harper, who sat out the week and the Oakland game after suffering a concussion in the opener.
Receiver Roydell Williams (ankle), linebacker David Thornton (shoulder) also should be back with defensive end Jacob Ford (hamstring).
Right tackle David Stewart, who had arthroscopic surgery on his knee Thursday, is feeling great, according to Fisher.
Fisher said All Pro kicker Rob Bironas, who has missed two exhibitions with a pulled groin, could be close to playing Friday night when the Titans (2-0) visit Atlanta.

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