Who needs offense?
The Texans have a good one, but their defense nearly outscored the Tennessee Titans by itself on Sunday. Safety Danieal Manning and cornerback Kareem Jackson returned interceptions for touchdowns in the second half as the Texans routed their division rivals 38-14 at Reliant Stadium to improve to 4-0.
"It feels like we're little kids in the backyard," said defensive end J.J. Watt, who had two sacks to give him an NFL-leading 7.5 on the season. "We're just having fun. We got DBs taking them to the house and Antonio Smith getting a sack and forcing a fumble... We literally don't care who gets the credit. We just want to make plays and have fun, and I think that's why we're so successful."
The Texans sacked Titans quarterbacks Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck four times. Safety Glover Quin knocked Locker out of the game with a sack midway through the first quarter.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was an efficient 20-of-28 for 202 yards (71 percent) with a 115.5 passer rating. He threw touchdown passes to fullback James Casey and tight end Owen Daniels and completed passes to seven different receivers.
The Texans are the first NFL team in Houston history to start 4-0. The Houston Oilers' best start in 37 years was 3-0 in 1991. The Texans have outscored their four opponents by 70 points (126-56) for an average score of 32-14.
"It's been a really good month," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I'm really proud of our team and how they're playing. We just have to stay focused and keep working."
The Texans imposed their will on the game's opening possession, driving 77 yards in seven plays and 3:19. Schaub started the drive with passes of 33 and 20 yards to Andre Johnson and finished it with an 11-yard touchdown to Casey over the middle.
"Both of the linebackers came for (Daniels), and I came underneath," Casey said. "You can't cover everybody."
On the Titans' second possession, Quin came off the right edge untouched on a safety blitz on third down and leveled Locker for an eight-yard loss. It was a clean hit, but Locker suffered a left shoulder injury and did not return. That forced the 37-year-old Hasselbeck into action.
The Texans went up 14-0 on a four-yard touchdown run by Arian Foster with 0:17 remaining in the first quarter. Hasselbeck made it 14-7 with a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Craig Stevens with 7:52 left in the first half.
Momentum was tilting the Titans' way until Manning turned the game with a pick-six early in the third quarter. Hasselbeck threw a pass deep to the left for tight end Taylor Thompson, who batted the ball into the air with his left hand.
Manning intercepted it at the Houston 45-yard line. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph flat-backed wide receiver Nate Washington as Manning reversed the field to his left, springing Manning a clear path to the end zone.
"I tried to switch hands and stiff-arm him, but Johnathan laid him out," Manning said. "The momentum had already changed with the pick, but I wanted to get in. Those guys were never able to get back in the game from that point."
The Texans went ahead 28-7 on their next drive with a 28-yard touchdown catch by Daniels. On third-and-five, Daniels caught a pass at the 22-yard line and shook a tackle attempt from linebacker Akeem Ayers. He brushed off safety Jordan Babineaux at the 10 and cornerback Alterraun Verner, who was being blocked downfield by rookie wide receiver Keshawn Martin, at the goal line.
"I think everyone tried to tackle me twice," said Daniels, who had a game-high six catches for 72 yards. "I got through all of them. I was determined to get in there."
The Texans used their "muddle huddle" on the drive to move 75 yards in seven plays and 2:37. They used it on both of their first two drives of second half to kick-start their offense.
"It just helps our tempo," Schaub said. "The muddle huddle gets us going and gets the tempo going and gets the receivers in the game, and it also wears down the defense."
Eight minutes into the fourth quarter, Smith sacked Hasselbeck and forced a fumble at the Titans' 24-yard line. Watt recovered the fumble and returned it to the 17. Shayne Graham made a 33-yard field goal to put the Texans up 31-17.
Five plays later, Jackson jumped a slant route on a short pass to the left intended for Damian Williams. He raced 63 yards the other way for a touchdown, doing a Deion Sanders-style strut for the final 10 yards before he reached the end zone. The Texans led 38-7 with 4:08 remaining.
Hasselbeck threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright with 1:01 remaining against the Texans' second-string defense.
The Texans allowed 158 rushing yards, but 101 of them were in the second half. Running back Chris Johnson had 141 rushing yards on 25 carries (5.6 average). Foster was limited to 86 yards on 24 carries (3.6 average) and Ben Tate to 11 yards on five carries (2.2 average).
The Texans were penalized only one time for three yards, the fewest penalty yards in a game in team history.
Next up for the Texans is a Monday Night Football game at the New York Jets, who are 2-2 after losing 34-0 to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4.