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Texans defense smothers Titans in big Week 17 win


The Texans defense smothered the Titans.

Houston walloped Tennessee, 26-3, on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

For the second time in the last two weeks, they bottled up All-Pro running back Derrick Henry and the run game, allowing him just 42 yards on 12 carries. Tyjae Spears—who carried six times in the game--had a 5-yard gain in the contest, but was stopped for a loss of five yards on his other five rushing attempts.

Cornerback Desmond King led the Texans with eight tackles on the afternoon, and explained how Houston's defense approached the Tennessee run game.

"We kept the same game plan from game one against these guys," King said. "He only had like nine yards on 16 carries last time. We gave up a little bit more, but like I said, it's about everybody getting to the ball with intentions to get the ball off the ball carrier."

Head Coach DeMeco Ryans, from his introductory press conference last winter, emphasized the importance of a swarm defense. Safety Kareem Jackson, who joined the team this week, logged a tackle and described the swarming effort this afternoon against the run.

"Just a collective effort," Jackson said. "All 11 guys getting to the ball, starting with the guys up front and then the linebackers as well. That was obviously that was a point of emphasis coming in, and we executed that."

The defense also strip-sacked Will Levis in the first half, and the fumble was scooped up by Sheldon Rankins, who rumbled in for a touchdown. Ryan Tannehill came on in relief of Levis and was dropped five more times for a sack.

The Texans defensive line was missing starters in tackle Maliek Collins and end Jonathan Greenard, but the banged-up unit got after the Titans' quarterbacks. Will Anderson, Jr. came back from an ankle injury that kept him out two games, and recorded back-to-back sacks at the end of the first half.

"We just showed grit," Anderson said. "We talk about all the time. It starts up front. Everybody came to work. Everybody had that mentality that we won't be denied. We're striving to be one of the best D-lines in the league."

The Titans were just 1-of-12 on third down, and of their 10 possessions, one ended in a field goal, one ended with the Rankins' touchdown, another was the final play of the game, two more ended on downs and five resulted in a punt.

Ryans was proud of the job Anderson, Rankins and the rest of the linemen did on Sunday.

"It all starts up front with our defensive line," Ryans said. "When we play well, they play well. So we just continue to lean on our defensive line. They're the driving force for our defense. When they're playing well, we have a really good chance to win games."

The Texans head to Indianapolis next weekend, where a win would their 10th of the regular season, and would earn them a playoff spot.

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