NEW ORLEANS -- Vince Young got the best of Reggie Bush again, and the NFL's feel-good team from last season is off to a dismal start.
Young threw a pair of touchdown passes and the Tennessee Titans kept New Orleans winless on the year, beating the Saints 31-14 Monday night before a Superdome crowd that showered boos on the same players who provided such a pick-me-up to the devastated city a year ago.
But Young, just as he did leading Texas to an epic win over Bush and Southern Cal at the 2006 Rose Bowl, brought his team back.
While running backs LenDale White and Chris Brown handled the bulk of the workload on the go-ahead drive, Young threaded a key 10-yard pass to Eric Moulds, who was shoved out of bounds at the Saints 1. White, a teammate of Bush's at USC, powered over on the next play to put the Titans (2-1) ahead to stay.
Young wasn't reliving the Rose Bowl. He was building off last season's strong finish, when the Titans rallied to go 8-8 -- just missing the playoffs -- after starting 0-5.
"I'm tired of it," Young said of the continuing comparisons to Bush. "A lot of people keep trying to make this a rivalry between me and Reggie. I have so much respect for the guy because of what he does."
Heck, Young even phoned up Bush during the week for tickets.
"He came through for me," Young said. "That was a good deal by Reg. I appreciate that."
Drew Brees, who had another miserable game, got the ball knocked away on the first play of the fourth quarter, the second of his five turnovers. Young seized on the fumble to drive Tennessee to the decisive score.
The second-year quarterback completed an 18-yard pass to Roydell Williams, ran for 11 yards and capped the drive with a 3-yard pass to Bo Scaife that put the Titans up 24-14.
Young also hooked up with Brandon Jones on a 35-yard touchdown and finished off an efficient performance in which he went 14-of-22 for 164 yards. For good measure, he ran three times for 23 yards.
"This is a tough one," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "It's obviously time to be concerned."
While Bush scored both touchdowns for the Saints, the Tennessee defense kept him bottled up for the most part. He was held to 15 yards on seven carries and managed just 20 yards on his six receptions, the quick stutter-step that froze so many defenders a year ago no longer working.
"Obviously it's not the same as last year," Bush said. "We started 3-0 last year. Obviously things are not going right for us right now. We're just not playing good football. We've got a lot of work to do."
No one has more work to do than Brees, who led the NFL in passing yards last season but can't seem to do anything right now. He threw a career-worst four interceptions -- three of them picked off by Keith Bulluck, who had never had more than one in a game. Vince Fuller returned the other 61 yards for a touchdown with his first career pick.
Brees now has seven interceptions, against one touchdown pass.
Earlier in the week, Bulluck referred to himself as "Mr. Monday Night." He certainly lived up to the title.
"I feel if you can't get it done on Monday night football, you'll never be able to get it done," the linebacker said. "I backed it up."
Even with all the interceptions, Brees' fumble was the most devastating turnover. The Saints were still in the game and had driven into Tennessee territory, but Travis LaBoy knocked the ball away with a blindside hit and Randy Starks recovered for the Titans at midfield.
"The momentum shifted from there," Brees said. "We never got it back."
As if another loss wasn't bad enough, New Orleans running back Deuce McAllister went out with a knee injury in the first half. Payton said he will elaborate on the injury Tuesday.
What a contrast to last year's home opener in the Big Easy, when the Saints returned to a refurbished Superdome that was the scene of so much misery after Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore in the summer of 2005.
That game, also on Monday night, saw U2 and Green Day team up for a pregame concert, former President Bush take part in the coin toss and the Saints blow out Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons, leading to a raucous celebration the city so desperately needed.
The Saints went on from there to capture the NFC South championship, and came within one win of its first trip to the Super Bowl.
A year later, the Super Bowl already looks out of reach and, more than anything, the Saints just need a win.
Frustrated fans started heading for home midway through the fourth quarter.
By the end, there was hardly anyone left -- except for a smattering of Titans fans, cheering Young as he trotted off the field with another win over Bush.
When they faced each other at the Rose Bowl, Young threw for 267 yards and ran for three touchdowns, including a fourth-down, 8-yard scamper with just 19 seconds remaining that gave the Longhorns a 41-38 victory and the national championship.
A few months later, the Saints took Bush with the No. 2 overall pick. Young was right on his heels, going to Tennessee with the very next selection.
Both lived up to the hype with brilliant rookie seasons, giving their rematch the feel of another big-time game even though the Saints had started with two losses on the road.
However, this isn't the same New Orleans team, especially on offense. The group that put up so many big plays a year ago is struggling to protect Brees, and Bush can't seem to find any running room.
"Obviously, none of us wanted to be sitting here 0-3," Brees said. "It's just not happening for us right now."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press