Big day for Byrd and "the bird"

When I originally planned to come up to the Titans game this weekend, I did not have high hopes. It was between the Colts and Patriots game, aka the worst time to judge the Titans’ merit. I decided against seeing a Jags rematch since I didn’t want to see them lose in two states to the same team. Obviously, I missed out. The Bills had a better record than the Titans, so a win wasn’t a sure thing. When looking at the Bills, I had to wonder: how did this team win three games? It was like in my fantasy league last year, where our Commish had the worst team perhaps ever yet managed to win five game. Some weeks you show up. Some weeks you lose at home to the Browns.

I had low hopes, even with a two-game winning streak. One win was easy. Everyone in the league had won a game. Two games still felt fluky. The Jags were masquerading as a playoff contender and the 49ers beat up on some weak NFC West teams. The Bills were still the Bills, and even though their defense was statistically inferior, they did pick off a lot of passes and Vince was overdue.

My first stroke of luck was the weather. I didn’t expect to wear shorts to a November game. In the last game, played late in the afternoon, my mom ran through the fountain after the game. No one joined her. The fountain was dry yesterday.

One of my favorite pastimes during the walk to the stadium is the jersey game. See what jerseys Titans fans actually paid money for. Tyrone Calico? Check. Neil O’Donnell? Not present.

It wasn’t a good day for Titan jersey watching. It was a good day for Bill jersey watching. I noticed that most fans preferred the throwback. Either it was a Thurman Thomas, a Steve Tasker, or the current-day “stars” like Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, or (no refunds available, sorry), T.O.

Roscoe Parrish was my favorite pick on the way to the stadium. Honestly, there weren’t too many opposing fans. Bills fans were nearly as scarce as Texan fans. Once I got inside and accepted my cheapskate freebie of a pom-pom (good for sunscreen purposes only), I saw the winner. A guy in a Mohawk had a O.J. Simpson jersey. Do they even sell them anymore? For throwback purposes, I did like the Doug Flutie look.

I know my friends at T-Rac’s Posse are tongue in cheek in their love for the Titans’ “six-time Pro Bowl mascot”. I wondered where the furry guy was when I got to my seat. The announcer, called the “voice of T-Rac”, said that he was stuck in traffic. But was he? Nope, the raccoon-like creature was hanging from one of the light towers. Jeez, I hope the guy makes more than the $50 a game the cheerleaders get.

I guess the mascot budget went up this year. Mr. Rac has at least half a dozen different vehicles. After he infamously ran over Saint scrub QB Adrian Peterson in a preseason game, you’d think that his license would be revoked.

To welcome me back, the Titans promptly went three and out. The Bills drove down the field and scored when they showed this new-fangled offensive formation. You won’t believe it. A running back took the snap, pretended to run, and get this, threw the ball to Lee Evans. The secondary must have thought that a running back wasn’t allowed to throw because they decided to let Evans score uncontested like it was a flag football game. I was not amused.

There was no quit in this team, much unlike the JV squad that went to New England. After starting with a Dave Stewart false start (welcome back, Dave!), the team steadily moved down the field until Chris Johnson got bored and decided to end it by turning on the afterburners. In three weeks he’s gone from a good player on a bad team to the number one fantasy running back.

The Bills went three and out. Vince threw a long pass. I said “no way”. Way. Kenny Britt brought it in. Seriously, I’d almost like to see a dropped pass just so I knew that all of the drops earlier this year weren’t a cruel joke. On third and ten, certain that a field goal was upcoming, Vince threw a ball behind Nate Washington. Washington, naturally, reached behind, caught the ball and ran in for the score.

A long Chris Johnson run led to a field goal. It was 17-7. Wasn’t this defense supposed to be quite sieve-like? T.O. burned Finnegan although he couldn’t corner for the score. No matter. Lee Evans scored. Jeff Fisher must think his head is going to blow up if the score isn’t close.

Midway through the quarter, Vince Young made his mistake. He threw downfield for Lavelle Hawkins and Jairus Byrd, the rookie interception machine, got the pick. The Bills couldn’t do anything but the Titans refused to call a time out.

It must be tough to be a coach in the NFL. Near the end of the half, you have to decide if you’re trying to run out the clock or trying to score. The Titans couldn’t decide which way to go. The Bills didn’t call a timeout until third down, with the clock down to 30 seconds. Naturally the Titans had three long gains, but were only able to get a feeble 60-yard field goal attempt from Bironas.

I was not thrilled at the half. Wasn’t this supposed to be an easy team? Chris Johnson had a lot of long gains but seemed to get stuffed on every other play. VY had been decent but not spectacular. The defense thought they were playing the Colts.

The first drive didn’t help my attitude. The Bills could not be stopped. On an incomplete pass, our neighbor yelled “T.O., you suck!” He yells this at every opposing player. They pay him no mind. T.O. paid mind. Two plays later, he caught a 37-yard pass. “You still suck!” the man defiantly yelled. That’ll tell him. The Bills finally petered out after an eight-minute drive.

The offense responded. Chris Johnson had another 20-yard run, and on second down Vince finally took off for a first down. That’s what he has to do. If he can run for first downs in situations where a pocket passer would take a sack or throw an incomplete just three times a game, it’s going to translate to points.

The drive ended in punt from the 36. I hate punts from inside the 40. It’s Fisher ball. It also worked. The Bills had a third and one. Edwards did a sneak. A Titan player pushed him forward. First down. OK, he must have been pushed sideways, because he didn’t make it. I wanted to make a “no one’s been that excited about a few inches since their wedding night” joke. It’s not much better in print.

It was third and 2. Could this team break through? Chris Johnson for 23 good enough for you? 20-yard gains are starting to get boring, to be honest. On another critical third and ten, VY took off. He stretched for the end zone. I was fine with him being short, as he got the first down. The Titans challenged the call, and I thought it was mainly because they were going to have to burn a time out anyway. First and second down were busts. On third down, Chris Johnson was hit in the backfield. Somehow he bounced off and scored. I saw LenDale White on the sideline, I swear. He may have been holding a squeeze bottle of Cabo Wabo, but that’s unconfirmed.

Later, on third and 14, Chris Johnson saved the drive with a twisting 15-yard reception. I remarked that he had to have been close to or at 100 receiving yards. In clock-run-out mode, White came in. CJ had his traditional four-yard-loss run on third down to make the field goal more interesting. Bironas made it. The game seemed clinched, but we knew better.

Actually we knew exactly right. Edwards threw to Vincent Fuller, who was not wearing a Bills throwback jersey. He’s no Ted Washington.

Ryan Fitzpatrick entered the game. He threw a pick six to Rod Hood. Nick Harper must know that his time as a Titan is almost up when a guy the Titans picked up off the street is outplaying him. No, Nick, take some more time to recover. We got this one.

It was time for the end game fun of people sneaking into our section to get the rare thrown glove or shoe from a player. Wait a sec, was an old man in a thrift store unmatching blue suit sneaking onto the field? He faced the fans and gave them the hook ‘em horns sign. OK, that’s kind of cool. Then he turned to face the field and gave the double middle finger. If he were just a random guy, someone with a butterfly net would have nabbed him. This unhinged and quite possibly drunk guy was the team’s owner. Bud Adams is 86 years old. He must have been pissed at Ralph Wilson for getting into the Hall of Fame this year. Who knows. There was some grudge, because Adams gave the Music City Salute twice more before his handler pushed him back onto the golf cart and he left.

Here’s video of Adams giving the Bills “the bird” from his suite. Roger Goodell was in the booth, but hopefully he was taking a whiz during that exchange.

Adams was fined $250,000 for his gestures, but that’s couch cushion money for him. Maybe his buddy Vince will front the money. After all, they’re a team. Plus it’s probably a tax write off.

Three wins is a trend. I’d be more excited if I believed this team could win seven more. The defense is still iffy. The offense isn’t bad, and with Chris Johnson, every play is a possible TD. Vince back in Houston should be interesting. I’m going to be tired at work next Tuesday.

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