The Houston Texans were a 10.5 point underdog entering today’s game in Nashville. They set out to prove the NFL is in fact Any Given Sunday, especially against a Tennessee Titans team that has been knocked around by injuries. Nate Davis, David Long, Derrick Henry, Julio Jones, Bud Dupree, Caleb Farley, and Rashaan Evans were all out. A.J. Brown busted a hand and then his chest; those injuries sent him to the sidelines. The Texans had an opening, and they busted it open. The eight game losing streak is over.
In the first half, the Texans were outgained in yards but shut out the Titans. Tennessee was 1/5 on third downs and 0-1 on fourth downs at one point. A Kamu Gruiger-Hill interception after Houston rolled from Cover One to Cover Two set up a Houston score. Ryan Tannehill had an intentional grounding penalty at the end of the half that stole a potential Tennessee field goal attempt. David Culley pulled a Mike Vrabel and decided to punt it instead of kicking a 52 yard field goal; the ball stuck to the Titans returner’s foot, and Houston recovered to set up another score. The Titans didn’t score until they were down 19-0.
Tim Kelly did a fine job scheming easy throws for Tyrod Taylor today. Houston’s terrible run game still bogged down the offense, though Taylor ran for a pair of touchdowns. And Houston’s offensive line held up against a Titans pass rush that had carried them to wins the last two weeks.
The rain intensified. The game got stupid. Mike Vrabel was drenched. David Culley played deadliest catch. Way too much Dontrelle Hilliard, and even Rex Burkhead had a few successful runs.
Despite their best effort to come back, once the rain stopped, the Titans couldn’t quite do it. Ryan Tannehill rolled right and missed with Eric Murray pouncing on the coverage. Desmond King picked off Tannehill with inside leverage, his first interception in three years. Houston’s offense had five three and outs in a row to keep the door open for a Titans comeback.
Then all that changed. Tannehill slipped and still threw. King picked him off again, and the return set up an easy field goal for a Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal. It’s good. Nine point lead with no timeouts left and 3:26 remaining was too much to overcome. A Terrance Mitchell interception was the final punchline.
It takes a lot for the Texans to win a game. They don’t have the talent or the coaching to compete week to week. This afternoon, against an injured Titans team, it took five turnovers and great field position to make it happen. A win is a win, and these things are meant to be celebrated, especially in an upcoming draft without a no doubt number one overall pick.
Next week the Texans take on the New York Jets on Sunday, November 28th at 12 p.m.