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Texans defeat Titans 13-12


If there was any doubt that the Texans are playing their best football in franchise history, the team silenced any skeptics Sunday by matching blows with the NFL's best team in a 13-12 win over the rival Tennessee Titans.

A franchise-record 70,831 fans at Reliant Stadium witnessed a record-setting day for the Texans, who not only reached .500 and extended their win streak to a team-record four games, but also saw wide receiver Andre Johnson finish with a club-record 207 receiving yards and a touchdown on 11 catches.

"He was ready to go," coach Gary Kubiak said of Johnson. "We were all ready to play. They're a tremendous football team. We knew it would be that type of game. I'm just proud of our guys. We got it in a nasty, physical football game. We're willing to play that way all day long and find a way to win like that."

Ultimately, the Texans relied on strong-willed rookie running back Steve Slaton to slam the door on Tennessee. Slaton gained 100 yards on 24 carries (4.16 avg.) and stated his case for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors by out-gaining Titans standout running back Chris Johnson by 35 yards.

Slaton, who is the only player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Titans this season, rushed for 48 yards on the game's final drive to preserve the victory. Thirty four of those yards came on a remarkable rush off the right end, where he avoided two defenders and escaped a pile of would-be tacklers.

The biggest sign that the Texans have turned a corner is the performance of their defense, which forced a season-high four three-and-out drives and limited Tennessee to only two third down conversions as well as14 total first downs, which ties the Titans' second-lowest total of the season.

"I'm just proud for the guys," Kubiak said. "These coaches, these players, this organization, everyone is working extremely hard."

{QUOTE}Houston forced its first takeaway on Tennessee's opening drive, when cornerback Fred Bennett intercepted quarterback Kerry Collins' pass in the end zone and returned it 19 yards.

But on the Texans' second play, quarterback Matt Schaub was sacked by defensive end Jevon Kearse and fumbled the ball near the left hash mark. Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth recovered the ball at the 32-yard line for no gain.

Rob Bironas' 26-yard field goal five plays later gave the Titans a 3-0 lead with 8:38 remaining in the first quarter.

Johnson's two receptions for 36 yards gave Houston a first down at the Tennessee 38. On the next play, officials flagged Schaub for intentional grounding, pushing back Houston 14 yards. On third-and-23, Schaub's pass intended for Kevin Walter fell incomplete, but defensive end William Hayes was penalized for roughing the passer to give the Texans a fresh set of downs.

Later, coach Gary Kubiak kept his offense on the field on fourth-and-one at the 19-yard line, and Slaton picked up two yards to move the chains. On third-and-11, Schaub completed a four-yard pass to wide receiver David Anderson to set up Kris Brown's 32-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter. The 60-yard drive lasted a season-long 16 plays.

The Texans' offense returned less than a minute later after a Tennessee three-and-out. On first down at the Houston 11, Schaub passed 65 yards to Johnson on a play-action pass from the goal line. Slaton picked up nine yards on the next two carries before Johnson hauled in a 13-yard touchdown to make the score 10-3 with 11:03 left before halftime.

Later in the second quarter, Houston collected its second turnover when safety Nick Ferguson forced a fumble on wide receiver Justin McCareins. Defensive end Tim Bulman recovered the loose ball at the 31-yard line, but the ensuing offensive possession resulted in a punt.

With 1:03 left before halftime, Johnson made his 100th reception of the season for a four-yard gain, but the Texans punted after Anderson dropped Schaub's third down pass attempt. Turk's 38-yard punt was downed by André Davis at the two-yard line with 39 seconds left in the first half.

Tennessee made quick work thanks to Collins' 40-yard pass to wide receiver Brandon Jones that put the Titans near field goal range at the Houston 41. After Ferguson was penalized 36 yards for a pass interference penalty on wide receiver Justin Gage, Bironas' 23-yard field goal cut Houston's lead to 10-6 at halftime.

Houston punted on the opening series of the second half. The Titans then drove 30 yards on nine plays over 3:48. Running back LenDale White gained 18 yards on three carries before Bironas' 51-yard field goal split the uprights.

Davis' 38-yard kickoff return to the 35-yard line gave Houston good starting field position to begin its eighth drive. From there, Schaub completed five passes for 27 yards and rushed for another eight yards. His pass out of bounds on third-and-seven set up Brown's 26-yard field goal attempt, which Brown missed wide left.

With 14:32 left in the game, the Texans' offense took over at its 36-yard line clinging to a 10-9 lead. A 15-yard penalty on cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who made helmet-to-helmet contact with Schaub on a blitz, moved the Texans into Tennessee territory. On third-and-five, Schaub passed 19 yards to Daniels, who was speared by Finnegan, which moved Houston to the 12-yard line.

On third-and-four at the six-yard line, Schaub's pass intended for Johnson fell incomplete, but Brown converted a 24-yard field goal to make the score 13-9 with 11:45 remaining in the contest.

The Titans' offense appeared to regain some momentum before defensive tackle Amobi Okoye tackled White in the backfield for a two-yard loss on third-and-inches from the Tennessee 48 to force Craig Hentrich's fifth punt.

Houston couldn't capitalize on the opportunity, though, and three plays later, Turk's 57-yard punt was returned 17 yards to the Tennessee 39 by defensive back Chris Carr. Gage's 28-yard catch on the first play from scrimmage set up Johnson's 13-yard run to the Houston 20. After a five-yard false start penalty, Collins rushed six yards on third-and-12. Bironas' 34-yard field goal cut Houston's lead to 13-12 with 5:23 on the game clock.

Johnson's 40-yard catch on the first play of the next drive gave the Texans a first down at the Tennessee 41. But after a five-yard false start penalty and two incomplete passes, Schaub lined up in shotgun formation on third-and-15 from the 46-yard line and passed five yards to Slaton.

Turk's punt deflected off Carr and was recovered by the Texans inside the five-yard line, but the officials ruled that the ball was illegally touched by the Texans before the ball hit Carr. Kubiak challenged the ruling, but replays showed that the ball knocked off cornerback Demarcus Faggins' helmet before touching Carr.

With a first down at the Titans' 17-yard line, Collins passed 25 yards to Gage to the Houston 49. On third-and-five at the 44-yard line, Greenwood was penalized five yards for illegal hands to the face. Three plays later, Jones made a leaping eight-yard grab at the Houston 32 to set up a fourth-and-three. Instead of attempting a field goal, coach Jeff Fisher left his offense on the field, and Collins overthrew McCareins to give Houston the ball with 1:55 remaining in the game.

On first down, Slaton amazed the crowd with his 34-yard gain. Two plays later, Slaton gained 12 yards to the Tennessee 20 on a toss off the right end. After Tennessee lost a timeout due to Haynesworth's injury, Schaub took a knee to run out the remainder of the game clock.

Injury report

  • Rookie weakside linebacker Xavier Adibi left the game in the second quarter with a groin injury. He did not return. Morlon Greenwood took his place in the lineup.
  • Rookie cornerback Antwaun Molden fractured his ankle and is done for the season.
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