Titans win, but not in tournament
Posted: Monday, January 2, 2012 7:03 pm
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans didn’t spend much time worrying about Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans.
They had much more important concerns with the first playoff game in franchise history just six days away.
Matt Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes and Houston botched a 2-point conversion at the end of Tennessee’s 23-22 victory at Reliant Stadium.
The Texans (10-6) will play Cincinnati (9-7) on Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s going to be unbelievable,” said receiver Kevin Walter, a former Bengal. “We are going to be ready, I tell you that for sure.”
Tennessee (9-7) earned its first winning record since 2008 in Mike Munchak’s first season, but its postseason fate depended on the outcome of later games in Cincinnati, Oakland and Denver.
When the Broncos lost to Kansas City, the Titans were knocked out of playoff contention.
“I was proud of the guys for bouncing back the last two weeks and putting ourselves in the position to reach the playoffs,” Munchak said in a statement, “But we also put ourselves in the position of needing help and it didn’t work out for us today.”
Houston was locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs before the game began. With the playoff position secured and nothing to lose but more players to injury, coach Gary Kubiak called for a 2-point conversion to avoid overtime and win the game in regulation.
“You would never go for 2 there in any other situation,” Kubiak said. “But where we were physically, at the end of the game, I had a tight end (Garrett Graham) playing linebacker. Our team, I had to get them to next week.”
Now the Texans will prepare for the biggest game in the team’s 10-year history.
“It’s a different platform that we’ve never played at before,” linebacker Brian Cushing said. “We’re really excited to showcase what we’re about as a team and as an organization to the city and to the fans. This is huge and from here on out this is big-time football and we’re excited for it.”
Rookie starter T.J. Yates left the game after one series and was replaced by Jake Delhomme. Kubiak said Yates had a bruised left shoulder but could’ve returned if necessary.
“Obviously, I didn’t want him to go back in the game,” Kubiak said. “We’ll know better where we’re at (Monday) at this point.”
The 36-year-old Del-homme, signed Nov. 29 in the wake of season-ending injuries to starter Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart, completed 18-of-28 passes, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson with 14 seconds left.
Kubiak called for a 2-point conversion at the end. But after a false start penalty, backup center Thomas Austin snapped the ball over Delhomme’s head and the game was over.
The Texans certainly weren’t happy about losing, but won’t spend any time thinking about what happened on Sunday.
“We’re ripping off the rear-view mirror,” tight end Joel Dreessen said. “The regular season is over with, and the Texans are officially invited to the postseason.”
Chris Johnson ran for 61 yards, and Rob Bironas kicked three field goals for Tennessee. Published in The Messenger 1.2.12