After three steps back, the Texans took a stride forward Sunday. But it took a while for the team to start moving ahead.
Down 21-3 to the Tennessee Titans five minutes into the second quarter, Houston appeared to be in yet another hole and well on its way to a fourth-straight loss.
Then something happened.
The Texans showed a consistency and maturity beyond their three years and fought back for the 31-21 win.
"I like their effort and I thought we showed really good determination," head coach Dom Capers said Monday afternoon. "We've faced our share of adversity here lately, losing three games in a row (and) coming in off a tough, hard fought loss against the Packers …
"When you get in that type situation, what you want to do is you want to keep your poise. You never want to panic. I thought I saw some maturity in our football team yesterday on the sideline. We were down. Everything was going against us. I thought our guys did a great job of just going out and taking things one play at a time and fighting to work our way to get back into the game."
Houston may be 1-1 in its last two games – 5-6 overall – but signs of a marked improvement are growing increasingly more obvious.
The team is playing smarter, as evident by a total of six penalties in two games and a plus-two advantage in turnovers.
The defense is stingier. The Titans had eight plays of 25 yards or more in just one game last season. The Texans finished the season series against Tennessee 2-0 Sunday having allowed no such plays.
Tennessee was held scoreless the entire second half Sunday and forced into three turnovers – two when the Texans were clinging to a 24-21 lead.
For two straight weeks the Texans have had an advantage in drive starts (11 yards against the Packers and 10 yards against the Titans).
David Carr and the offense scored four touchdowns for the second time this season.
Finally, the running game came to life Sunday afternoon.
The Texans rushed for more than 100-yards for only the second time in 2004. Domanick Davis rushed for 129 yards on 16 carries, including three plays of 25-yards or more. Houston entered the game as the only team in the league without a rush of more than 20 yards.
Davis tied a career high in the game and the team rushed for 164 yards – the most since Oct. 3. And they did it on half the amount of carries it took to rush for 162 yards against the Raiders.
Capers expects it to get better against the New York Jets next Sunday.
"As we go through and look at our run game I think we have a chance to run the ball (as good) as we've run it over the next five weeks," he said. "I think our guys are starting to get a little bit more of a feel. I felt that coming even though production hasn't been what we wanted it to be."
'PEEK' PERFOMRANCE:Linebacker Antwan Peek ignited the crowd against Tennessee, sacking Titans quarterback Steve McNair in the fourth quarter and forcing a key fumble.
Capers laughed in his weekly press conference when the second-year player was the topic of the first question.
"He went in and they had a hard time blocking him," he said. "Yes, we'll try to find more ways (to get him on the field). I'm glad we had him on the field.
"He has the combination of temperament and athletic ability so sure we'll try to find more ways to get him on the field."
INJURY REPORT:Running back Tony Hollings pulled his hamstring on a kickoff return Sunday. He will miss practice Wednesday.
Free safety Marcus Coleman could also miss practice Wednesday with a shoulder injury. He suffered the injury two weeks ago but played every play against the Titans.
Safety Jason Simmons underwent a magnetic resonance scan Monday to evaluate his progression after suffering a concussion Oct. 17. The team is awaiting those results.
Capers said linebacker Jay Foreman (neck), safety Marlon McCree (stinger), linebacker Jamie Sharper (shoulder), defensive end Gary Walker (foot), guard Zach Wiegert (toe) and kicker Kris Brown (hip) will be limited in Wednesday's practice.