7:30 PM ET, August 19, 2005
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Tennessee Titans gave up one touchdown on a kickoff return, another on a long run. The kickers struggled, missing two field goals and an extra point.This being the preseason, the Titans still managed to win.Shane Boyd threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie O.J. Small with 1:28 remaining that gave Tennessee a 24-21 over the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night.The Falcons showed off their big-play capability. Rookie DeAndra Cobb scored on a 101-yard kickoff return and T.J. Duckett had a 72-yard touchdown run."Sure, it catches everybody's attention," Cobb said. "But I'm kind of down because we didn't get the win."Tennessee is letting two kickers battle for the job. Neither distinguished himself on this night. Rob Bironas missed field goal attempts of 37 and 44 yards, while Ola Kimrin was wide right on an extra point.Combined with Cobb's return, it wasn't a good night for the Tennessee special teams."Of course ... I'm concerned," coach Jeff Fisher said. "They were told exactly what to do on kickoff special team and couldn't get it down. A lot of the young guys that we want to participate this year, they are going to have to pick it up for the team."Michael Vick played nearly the entire first half for the Falcons, looking especially good on the opening possession. He hooked up with fullback Justin Griffith on a 23-yard pass, then broke off a 21-yard run when no one was open. After Warrick Dunn ran for 18 yards, Vick lobbed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Brian Finneran."Man, chasing him is like chasing thin air," Tennessee linebacker Keith Bullock said of Vick. "I got a little taste of the Mike Vick experience tonight."Steve McNair was sharp for the Titans (1-1), though he was facing a Falcons defense that didn't have five injured starters. The Tennessee quarterback completed 14-of-19 passes for 137 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown to Chris Brown."We got in a rhythm," McNair said. "It was a good feeling."With third- and fourth-stringers on the field, the Falcons (2-1) made one goal-line stand in the final period but couldn't stop the Titans on fourth-and-goal from the 4.Boyd, hoping to land a spot as the Titans' third quarterback, flipped a pass to Small, who fought off rookie cornerback Jonte Buhl to make the catch."It was a great jump for the whole offense," said Boyd, a rookie from Kentucky. "When my number is called again, it will be time to do it again."Cobb, a sixth-round pick from Michigan State, took a major step toward making the Falcons with his electrifying return in the first quarter. He took the kickoff, sent three players flying with a cutback at the Falcons 30 and found a huge gap on the left side."My guys wiped out the wedge and the back side was clear," Cobb said. "I made the cutback and it was open. I only had the kicker to beat. That was running through my head -- don't get tackled by the kicker."Duckett, the battering ram in the NFL's best rushing offense last season, didn't look like a short-yardage specialist in the third quarter. On a routine-looking run, he slipped through a hole and broke free down the middle to give the Falcons a 21-16 lead.Brown, who sat out the Titans' first preseason game, also rushed for 45 yards on 10 carries. He had the stage all to himself with newcomer Travis Henry sitting out because of a turf toe injury."I think we're more versatile when I'm out there," Brown said.Kimrin made a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter, and second-string quarterback Billy Volek directed a 94-yard touchdown drive that gave the Titans their first lead in the final minute of the first half.Volek converted three times on third down -- the first two on short passes, the third a 29-yard pass to Brandon Jones, who was tripped up at the Atlanta 1. Jarrett Payton powered over for the touchdown on the next play.The Falcons lost a couple of players during the game.Cornerback DeAngelo Hall was ejected after he delivered a left-right combination to the helmet of Tennessee receiver Courtney Roby. Hall took offense at Roby's blocking technique after Tyrone Calico hauled in a pass along the sideline.Falcons receiver Peerless Price went out in the third quarter with bruised ribs and a concussion. Formerly the team's No. 1 pass catcher, Price is now battling just to make the team.
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