Houston Texans 30, Tennessee Titans 16
After their disappointing loss on Monday Night Football, the Houston Texans must have been eager to take out their frustrations on rival Tennessee. Arian Foster and J.J. Watt once again dominated their respective sides of the ball en route to a victory that was more lopsided than the score suggests.
Foster's big day on the ground (20 carries, 151 yards, two TDs) took the pressure off Ryan Fitzpatrick and a struggling offensive line. Jurrell Casey and the Tennessee defensive created havoc in the backfield, sacking Fitzpatrick four times and holding him to 10 of 23 passing in the first half. Foster's smooth running style seemed to wear Tennessee down, allowing a more efficient finish offensively.
Head coach Bill O'Brien was impressed with Foster.
"He’s a heck of a running back," said O'Brien. "He makes a lot of yards because of his vision, he sets up blocks well, he has great instincts, he’s good in the passing game, it’s all of the things I’ve said from day one with him."
Managing the running back workload seems to have become more of a priority after Foster missed Week 3 with a hamstring injury. This would be the third week in a row that Foster has carried the ball exactly 20 times.
"We talk a lot, he and I, about how much he can practice," noted O'Brien. "Usually with guys like him and Andre (Johnson), those guys, we give them maybe Wednesday, a little bit lighter load on Wednesday’s and then Thursday they ramp it up and then Friday kind of taper down, especially during this time of the year, and he’s done that. I think that’s helped him."
After trading punts and field goals, Foster showcased his signature cutback scoring a 34-yard touchdown halfway through the second quarter. After a D.J. Swearinger interception, the Texans would tack on a field goal before halftime.
J.J. Watt had another day at the office, sacking rookie Zach Mettenberger twice in his first NFL start, including a strip-sack recovered by Tim Jamison. Watt and Mike Mohamed (10 tackles), making the start for the ailing Brian Cushing,helped contain rookie Bishop Sankey to 35 yards rushing.
It was Watt's forced fumble that opened up the next Texans scoring drive. Starting at the Titans' 20 yard line, Foster caught Fitzpatrick's lone touchdown pass for a five-yard score.
The Texans' most impressive scoring drive, however, came on their next possession. Brett Kerns' punt pinned Fitzpatrick and the Houston offense within their own five yard line. The Texans would drive down the field 98 yards, finishing with yet another Foster touchdown run to bring the score to 27-9 late in the third quarter. The Texans would cruise to victory the rest of the way.
The Texans saw first-round pick Jadeveon Clowney return after suffering a knee injury back in Week 1. Clowney rotated in and out of the lineup but was held to just one tackle. The rookie looked healthy and was explosive at times but is still well within Watt's massive shadow.
"I feel like I could have done a lot more," said Clowney. "Sometimes I get in a situation where something might go wrong with my injury but it’s going to get better week by week as I build more confidence in my knee week by week and get better.
Fitzpatrick's 227 passing yards leaned towards DeAndre Hopkins (95 yards, five catches, 11 targets), but Andre Johnson's 55 yards on 12 targets put the (hopefully) future Hall of Famer 13th on the all-time yardage list.
Discuss the victory here, Texans fans! With this performance and Philadelphia on the horizon, does this 4-4 record give you hope for the rest of the season? Sound off down below.
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