Titans 31, Texans 17

The Tennessee Titans are breathing a very big sigh of relief,

and not because their very slim playoff hopes remain alive for

another week.

They finally won again.

Kerry Collins threw for two touchdowns and 237 yards and Chris

Johnson ran for a TD and 130 yards as the Titans snapped a six-game

skid by beating the Houston Texans 31-17 on Sunday.

With the win and Indianapolis downing Jacksonville 34-24, the

Titans (6-8) stayed in the playoff hunt for another week with their

first victory since Oct. 24. They also avoided being swept by the

team that replaced them in Houston for only the second time.

”It feels real good,” Johnson said of the win. ”It was kind

of like we didn’t know what it meant to really win no more, losing

six straight and then really coming in here and getting a


The Texans (5-9) have lost seven of their last eight and never

really were in this one.

Most of the attention coming in was on Texans receiver Andre

Johnson and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan after they brawled

three weeks ago in Houston’s 20-0 shutout win. The only scuffle

Sunday came between a couple of linemen as Tennessee took control

from the start, scoring on its first three possessions for a 21-0

lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Titans held Arian Foster, the NFL’s rushing leader with

1,330 yards coming in, to a season-low 15 yards on 11 carries.

Jason Babin had two of the Titans’ four sacks of Matt Schaub, and

Alterraun Verner had the Titans’ first interception since Nov.


Vince Young, placed on injured reserve on Nov. 23, made his

first appearance on the Titans’ sideline during the second half

before heading to the tunnel early in the fourth quarter.

”I didn’t even know he was there,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher

said of Young. ”That’s the first I’ve heard of it. Glad he’s with

his teammates.”

Fisher credited last weekend off giving his Titans an edge over

the Texans, who lost to Baltimore in overtime on Monday and then

had to travel. Houston coach Gary Kubiak credited the Titans with

beating his team across the board physically to put them into a

21-0 hole.

”I thought we looked slow today,” Kubiak said. ”We looked

just slow moving around. (It’s) hard to understand because

practice-wise I think we did everything we could to get them fresh.

We did not play as fast as the Tennessee Titans.”

Schaub threw for 325 yards overall and had two TDs in the second

half trying to rally the team that plays its best in the second

half. He trimmed the lead with a 4-yard TD to Kevin Walter with

6:28 left to 31-17, and the Texans tried an onside kick recovered

by Titans receiver Justin Gage.

The Texans’ last drive came up short with Schaub throwing

incomplete and turning the ball over on downs with 3:33 left.

Johnson helped Tennessee with runs of 19 and 10 yards, and Babin

went onto the field for the Titans as they knelt down to run out

the final seconds.

”It’s embarrassing for that team to do what they did,” Texans

safety Bernard Pollard said. ”Yes, they’re football players. Yes,

they get paid. Yes, it’s the NFL, but we have the talent. We are

honestly going out there and making mistake after mistake. It’s all

of us.”

The closest these teams came to fighting came near the end of

the first half. Mark Anderson, starting with Mario Williams on

injured reserve, sacked Collins. Away from the play, Titans left

guard Leroy Harris rolled up Texans end Antonio Smith’s legs. Both

got up for some pushing and shoving.

But it was Texans linebacker Brian Cushing who drew the only

penalty when his helmet got knocked off.

The Titans got going to start the game with some help from the


Jason Allen was flagged for a low block on the kickoff, giving

Tennessee good field position at the 40. Then Amobi Okoye jumped

into the neutral zone. When the Titans bogged down at fourth-and-8,

Fisher went for it. Collins found rookie Damian Williams wide-open

for a 39-yard catch.

Two plays later, Collins found Nate Washington for a 3-yard TD

for a 7-0 lead.

The Texans appeared ready to answer right back when Steve Slaton

returned the kickoff 50 yards. But the Titans forced Houston

four-and-out, stopping Foster first on third-and-1 and then

fourth-and-1 with a 4-yard loss.

Collins immediately threw deep. Troy Nolan tipped the ball away

from Glover Quinn, who was set up to make the interception. The

ball went right to Kenny Britt, who finished off a 59-yard catch to

the Houston 3. Fisher went for it again on fourth-and-1, and

Collins connected with Gage for a 1-yard TD and a 14-0 lead.

Notes: Washington tied his career high with his sixth TD

reception this year. … This was the first time Tennessee opened a

game scoring on the first three drives since Sept. 20, 2009, also

against Houston. … Britt finished with 128 yards receiving on six

catches for his fourth 100-yard receiving game. … Titans TE Bo

Scaife was a healthy scratch. … Randy Moss didn’t have a pass

thrown at him for the second straight game. … The Texans had won

three of the past four in this series coming in, but Tennessee now

leads 13-5 overall. The Titans are 6-1 against Houston in December.

… The Titans finish 3-5 at home.