The Houston Texans gave themselves a big confidence boost and the AFC South lead at the same time.
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Arian Foster ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns and added 119 more receiving with a 78-yard TD as the Texans routed the Titans 41-7 Sunday to take back the division lead from Tennessee. He became the first Texan with 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game.
The Texans (4-3) snapped a two-game skid with their largest margin of victory in franchise history even with Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson missing his third straight game and fullback James Casey his second because of injuries.
Matt Schaub threw for 296 yards and two TDs, and the Texans won in Nashville for the second time in three years.
”It’s big going forward for us to know that’s what we’re capable of as a team,” Schaub said.
Tennessee (3-3) has lost two straight, wasting the half-game lead in the division picked up when the Texans lost during the Titans bye last week.
Fans booed running back Chris Johnson as he was stopped early and often, and finished the game with 18 yards on 10 carries.
This one was over early, and the crowd began leaving at the start of the fourth quarter. Coach Mike Munchak sounded just as frustrated as the fans when he said the Texans were better than his Titans in every category.
”We’ve got a lot to fix,” Munchak said. ”Obviously, we’re not happy with the product we put on the field today. It’s on all of us, coaches, players, that’s not us. That can’t be us and we’ve got to improve.”
Houston outgained the Titans 518-148 and had the ball for more than 37 minutes. Ben Tate ran for 104 yards, marking the first time the Texans have had two backs top 100 yards in the same game in their short history.
”It’s hard to run on the road, and it was a very big game,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. ”We get a chance to win like that and to grasp it and play the way we played in the second half is what made me feel good.”
The Texans picked off two passes with Brice McCain returning the second 38 yards for a TD, and had two sacks.
Houston started slowly, punting on the first two drives. Then the Texans scored on six of the next seven possessions in blowing out their rival.
Neil Rackers started it with the first of two field goals. Danieal Manning’s interception pinned Houston at its own 13, but Schaub finished off an 87-yard drive with a 10-yard TD pass to Joel Dreessen midway through the second quarter.
Houston needed four plays on the next drive when Schaub rolled to his right, stopped and threw back across the field to Foster who caught the ball and easily outraced the Titans to finish off a 78-yard TD for a 17-0 lead.
Schaub had been banged up in the past two games. Against Tennessee, he had plenty of time to throw and was rarely touched.
Foster capped a 92-yard drive by leaping over the top for a 1-yard TD, giving the Texans a 27-0 lead late in the third quarter that was so big they couldn’t let it slip away as they did in the past two losses. He added a 5-yard run early in the fourth.
”I’m just starting to get back to my football shape,” Foster said.
The Titans have yet to figure out how to get Johnson going after he missed the preseason before signing his $53 million extension. Johnson said he was frustrated with the running struggles and that those who know football can tell what the problems are. He said he’s very confident he’s doing what he’s been asked to do.”
”It’s just a situation I got to continue to say I can’t do nothing but keep working hard, running hard and doing what I can do for this team,” Johnson said.
Going no-huddle with Javon Ringer in for Johnson helped the Titans avoid the shutout, and Matt Hasselbeck capped the drive with a 5-yard TD pass to Jared Cook on a 5-yard TD on fourth-and-goal with 5:34 left in the third.
It wasn’t nearly enough, and rookie Jake Locker replaced Hasselbeck with 9:32 left after his second interception. The eighth pick overall got his first NFL completion on a 12-yard toss to Lavelle Hawkins.
Notes: Manning left the game with what was announced as a lower left leg injury after his interception and did not return. Kubiak said it was an injury to Manning’s upper left and there was a chance he could return this year. … Texans WR Derrick Mason caught one pass against the team that drafted him, and it was enough to move him past Art Monk for 11th all time with his 941st career reception. … The Texans are 3-7 in this series in Nashville. … Foster notched the 11th 100-yard rushing game of his career and second this season. … Titans WR Damian Williams (headache) did not return after missing on a long pass in the second quarter.