Final

Titans 38

(9-2, 4-2 away)

Falcons 31

(2-9, 0-6 home)

4:15 PM ET, November 23, 2003

 

1 2 3 4 T
TEN 0 14 14 1038
ATL 21 0 3 731

Volek gets win, McNair 'doubtful' next week

ATLANTA (AP) -- Little-used backup Billy Volek walked into the huddle, with the Tennessee Titans trailing, and immediately felt comfortable with his teammates.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Titans: Are the Titans equipped on offense to succeed if Steve McNair misses time?
They'll be able to bide their time and win some games without McNair because of their veteran leadership and their coaching staff. This is one of the best-coached teams in the NFL and it showed in the way this team played after McNair went down. The coaching staff didn't panic; they adjusted their game plan and the team responded accordingly. This team realizes they have to step it up without their MVP and they will.

Question on the Falcons: Is there enough room in the backfield for Dunn and Duckett?
There's no doubt they can both exist in the same backfield because they have such different running styles. Dunn is more of a slasher, while Duckett has the ability to pound the ball. Right now Dunn is on a roll and should get the majority of the carries.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

"You can see in their eyes that they have confidence in me," Volek said.

For good reason, too.

Volek took over for Steve McNair and threw his second career touchdown pass, rallying the Titans from a 21-point deficit in a 38-31 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

McNair, the leading passer in the NFL, left in the second quarter when he hurt his right calf.

After he threw a 5-yard pass to Frank Wycheck, defensive end Patrick Kerney simply touched McNair, who took a tentative step and immediately reached for his calf.

At the time, the team listed his return as questionable, but he didn't come back. Afterward, Titans coach Jeff Fisher said McNair was doubtful for next week's game against the New York Jets.

"If I get the nod next week, I'm going to go out and do what I can do," Volek said. "We'll see what happens."

He finished 9-for-15 for 117 yards. Before this season, he hadn't thrown a pass since 2001.

Atlanta (2-9) again played without starting quarterback Michael Vick, out since breaking his leg in the preseason. Earlier in the week, he sprained his ankle in practice, further delaying his return.

"We walked out there and we gave them everything we had," Falcons coach Dan Reeves said. "We don't apologize to anybody."

Justin McCareins scored twice for the Titans (9-2), including a 58-yard punt return late in the third quarter that gave them the lead for good. In the fourth quarter, he caught a 14-yard TD pass from Volek to make it 38-24.

"It shows you what kind of man he is," McCareins said of Volek. "He came in in a really tough situation and really took control of the offense and the huddle. He does that every day in practice."

The Falcons cut the lead to seven on Doug Johnson's 41-yard pass to Peerless Price, then got the ball back in the final two minutes. But a fourth-down pass from Johnson to Brian Kozlowski fell short, and Tennessee ran out the clock.

"I am really proud of the way that Billy handled the game and also the way the players around him stepped up, which is what has to happen," Fisher said. "This was a huge comeback for us and a huge character game."

Johnson started for the first time since the sixth game, replacing Kurt Kittner. He finished with 276 yards, including an 86-yard pass to Warrick Dunn in the first quarter that gave Atlanta a 21-0 lead.

The quick start led to a 21-14 halftime lead for the Falcons, the fifth time this season they've led at the half. They fell to 0-5 in those games.

"During all of these losses, somehow and someway, we've squandered away the lead," Price said.

Allen Rossum ran a punt back 59 yards for the first touchdown, and T.J. Duckett added a 2-yard run to make it 14-0.

Then on third-and-14 from the 14, Johnson avoided the blitz and threw a screen to Dunn. He meandered his way across the field and through the defense, helped by a crushing block by tight end Alge Crumpler.

"It really wasn't even to Warrick," Johnson said. "As I caught the snap, I told him to get out and he just kind of slipped by me. I threw him the ball and he just made a great play up the sideline."

The Titans hadn't allowed an opponent to score a TD in the first quarter in 17 of their previous 19 games.

But McNair threw two touchdown passes to Wycheck before he left, then Volek brought Tennessee back from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter. Eddie George, who ran for 115 yards, scored on a 2-yard run to cut it to three, then McCareins gave the Titans the lead with his return.

Game notes


Dunn left the game with a sprained foot, and his status for next week is uncertain. ... Titans DE Jevon Kearse didn't dress because of a sprained ankle. ... Falcons NT Ed Jasper, pictured on the front of the Game Day program, was inactive with the flu. ... Crumpler's big block sent CB Samari Rolle out of the game with a concussion, but he later returned. ... Atlanta WR Terence Edwards, who signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent, played on offense for the first time but didn't have a catch. He was on special teams for two games earlier this season. ... Dunn's 86-yard TD reception was the longest of his career, surpassing a 68-yarder he had against Detroit in 1999 with Tampa Bay.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERTENATL
atl14:52
Drive info: 0 plays, 0 yds, 0:00
07
THIRD QUARTERTENATL
ten3:16
Drive info: 1 plays, 0 yds, 0:00
2824
SECOND QUARTERTENATL
tenTD11:25Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 8 yds, 0:10
1321
ten11:25
Drive info: 1 plays, 8 yds, 0:10
1421
FOURTH QUARTERTENATL
tenTD8:15Touchdown
Drive info: 3 plays, 21 yds, 0:17
3724
ten8:15
Drive info: 3 plays, 21 yds, 0:17
3824
FIRST QUARTERTENATL
atlTD14:52Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, -8 yds, 0:00
06
THIRD QUARTERTENATL
tenTD3:16Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, -6 yds, 0:57
2724
FOURTH QUARTERTENATL
atlTD5:12Touchdown
Drive info: 7 plays, 67 yds, 2:24
3830
FIRST QUARTERTENATL
atlTD1:14Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 85 yds, 1:53
020
THIRD QUARTERTENATL
tenTD6:09Eddie George, 2 yd run
Drive info: 1 plays, 62 yds, 2:06
2024
FOURTH QUARTERTENATL
atl5:12
Drive info: 7 plays, 67 yds, 2:24
3831
FIRST QUARTERTENATL
atl1:14
Drive info: 1 plays, 85 yds, 1:53
021
SECOND QUARTERTENATL
tenTD12:25Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 62 yds, 12:31
621
THIRD QUARTERTENATL
ten6:09
Drive info: 1 plays, 62 yds, 2:06
2124
FIRST QUARTERTENATL
atlTD7:53T.J. Duckett, 2 yd run
Drive info: 1 plays, 55 yds, 2:12
013
SECOND QUARTERTENATL
ten12:25
Drive info: 1 plays, 62 yds, 12:31
721
FOURTH QUARTERTENATL
tenFG9:53Gary Anderson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 57 yds, 2:38
3124
FIRST QUARTERTENATL
atl7:53
Drive info: 1 plays, 55 yds, 2:12
014
THIRD QUARTERTENATL
atlFG10:01Jay Feely 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 1 plays, 54 yds, 5:33
1424