CINCINNATI With Vince Young not even with the team, the Tennessee Titans ended a troubling and confusing week by winning in a breeze.
Backup quarterback Kerry Collins threw low, tight passes that stayed on track in Cincinnati's wind-tunnel of a stadium Sunday, setting up a 24-7 victory that kept the Tennessee Titans unbeaten and brought them a little relief at the end of a trying week.
Everyone joined in.
Collins threw his first touchdown pass in two years, rookie Chris Johnson ran for 109 yards, and Rob Bironas guided a low, curving kick between gyrating uprights for a 34-yard field goal. Linebacker Keith Bulluck provided the clincher, blocking Kyle Larson's punt in the end zone with his right arm, then snatching the ball off the ground for another touchdown.
At 2-0, the Titans are off to their best start since 1999, when they won their first three games and made the only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. It hasn't come easy.
Young sprained his left knee during an opening win over Jacksonville, and the Titans asked police to look for him a day later out of concern for his mental state. The drama consumed their week, and Young didn't accompany the team to Cincinnati, where his 35-year-old backup showed he knows what he's doing.
Collins threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Justin Gage and made no mistakes against the Bengals (0-2), off to their worst start since Marvin Lewis became head coach in 2003.
Play by play, the Titans blew them away.
Gusts over 30 mph turned Paul Brown Stadium into a wind machine. Swirling debris pelted the field one of the referees' white caps sailed more than 50 yards off his head and every throw became a gamble. Balls floated and veered, forcing the offenses to keep it simple.
Perfect for Tennessee.
Collins had the touch in a wind that made it sometimes impossible to stand without leaning. He went 14-of-21 for 128 yards without an interception amazing under the punishing conditions.
The Titans' defense had a little punishment in it, too.
Bengals receiver Chad Ocho Cinco tormented the Titans' secondary last November in Cincinnati's 35-6 win, catching a career-high 12 passes and three touchdowns. Bullock warned "Oucho Cinco" before the game to steer clear in the rematch.
Bullock clinched it with his blocked punt and score early in the fourth quarter, which put the Titans ahead 24-7. All Ocho Cinco managed was four harmless catches he also got flagged for holding and interference in an offense that has only one touchdown in two games.
Carson Palmer was 16-of-27 for 134 yards with two interceptions, including Cortland Finnegan's third interception of the season. It wasn't all the quarterback's fault. The Bengals' defense had 12 men on the field for one play, sustaining a Tennessee touchdown drive, and their offense was flagged for having 12 men in the huddle.