Titans glad to finally break skid
Posted: Monday, December 20, 2010 9:08 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — For now, just one win is enough to make the Tennessee Titans happy.
Kerry Collins threw for two touchdowns and Chris Johnson ran for 130 yards and a TD in helping the Titans snap a six-game skid with a 31-17 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
“It’s been a while, and I think most guys had forgotten what it feels like,” Titans left tackle Michael Roos said. “It definitely puts a smile on your face to be able to end the skid and get a win under our belt.”
The Titans (6-8) hadn’t won since Oct. 24, and it felt much longer than that.
“I feel like we hadn’t won a game in two years,” Titans safety Chris Hope said. “Anytime you can get a win, and more importantly against the Houston Texans, one of our bigger rivals, to beat them is always a good feeling.”
With this win, the Titans keep their very slim playoff hopes alive. But they still need lots of help with two games left.
They also kept the Texans (5-9) from finishing the season at .500 and from sweeping them for only the second time. They also got some payback for the 20-0 rout at the Texans’ hands on Nov. 28 in a game remembered more for the brawl between Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan.
Those two didn’t fuss much at all this time around. Johnson caught a 12-yard TD pass and finished with six catches for 58 yards, but his TD catch pulled Houston to 24-10 in the third quarter.
The biggest squabble came between a couple of Texans after Titans guard Leroy Harris rolled into the legs of Texans end Antonio Smith after a sack of Collins. Houston linebacker Brian Cushing came over, and Smith said Cushing head-butted him before the linebacker’s helmet flew off.
“It just got out of hand,” Smith said.
Tennessee scored on its first three possessions and was up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Titans also sacked Matt Schaub four times and picked him off once. Schaub finished by throwing for 325 yards and two TDs, but it was much too late for a team that just can’t seem to get started in the first half.
“We’re extremely disappointed and frustrated,” Schaub said. “This season we had high hopes and our expectations were high. We still have high expectations for our football team. We just need to find a way to play better football for 60 minutes for 16 weeks.”
Schaub didn’t struggle alone. Arian Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,330 yards coming in, was held to a season-low 15 yards on 11 carries. Houston had a franchise-low four yards rushing in the first half, and Foster wasn’t in late.
He said he had a muscle spasm and could have returned.
“This is very disappointing,” Foster said. “We can’t be taking a lot of L’s like this.”
Chris Johnson made up for his career-worst performance in the last game between these teams. He ran seven times for 5 yards that day, but finished with 130 yards Sunday.
“We just got to think about one game at a time and handle our own situation and try to win out,” Johnson said. “If we win out and we so happen to get in the playoffs, then that’s a good thing. But I feel like at 6-8 right now, we really can’t be around here talking playoffs.”
The Titans had the benefit of having last weekend off after a loss to the Colts on Dec. 9. The Texans lost in overtime to Baltimore on Monday night, then had to travel in a short week. Houston coach Gary Kubiak said the difference showed on the field as the Texans looked slow.
“We looked just slow moving around,” Kubiak said. “(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.”
Collins picked up where he left off against the Colts, throwing a 3-yard TD pass to Nate Washington on the first drive and a 1-yarder to Justin Gage on the second. That second TD was set up by Collins’ longest pass off a tipped ball to Kenny Britt that went 59 yards when Texans cornerback Glover Quin had been all set for the interception.
“Sometimes you’ve got to get lucky, and we’ve been kind of unlucky here the last few weeks,” Collins said. “Just a play that bounced our way, and we were able to capitalize on it.”
The Texans tried to rally yet again in the fourth quarter. Their last best chance came with Schaub trying to connect with Dorin Dickerson in the end zone on fourth down only to come up short after missing Johnson the play before.
Then the Titans did something they hadn’t been able to do much this season: use Johnson to run out the clock.