Matt Schaub left the game in the first quarter with a left shoulder injury. His return is questionable.
NASHVILLE - The Texans' unfortunate turnover trend continued Sunday in the tail end of the team's back-to-back road trip.
In a 28-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans at LP Field, the Texans lost possession twice. The first giveaway on Jacoby Jones' fumble resulted in a third quarter Tennessee touchdown, while the second turnover ended the Texans' comeback attempt when quarterback Sage Rosenfels was intercepted by safety Michael Griffin with 2:47 left in the game.
"When you get beat, there's probably going to be a reason why you get beat," coach Gary Kubiak said in response to his team's turnovers. "Our football team played hard. Our guys battled like a champ. There's no problem with effort. We're right there in a great football game. We're right there in the third quarter and let's go make a play. And we didn't. We made a mistake and they made us pay for it."
To add injury to insult, the Texans suffered three huge losses. Starting quarterback Matt Schaub left the game in the first quarter after dislocating his left shoulder on a sack. Later in the first half, right guard Fred Weary was carted off the field in a stretcher with a broken leg. Weary's replacement, Chris White, also suffered a season-ending injury when he hurt his knee in the second half.
"I think there is a little bit of hope for our quarterback," Kubiak said after the game. "Matt's (injury) may not be a season-ending injury."
In addition to those setbacks, the Texans played without starting running back Ahman Green (knee) and starting strongside linebacker Danny Clark (groin).
Ron Dayne was able to jumpstart the Texans' ground game with a game-high 86 rushing yards on 18 carries (4.8 avg.) and a touchdown. Wide receiver Andre Johnson chipped in with a game-high nine catches for 116 yards (12.9 avg.) and a score.
"I thought we ran the ball pretty effectively all day," Kubiak said. "That was our game plan – to be patient enough to run the ball. When you throw the ball a lot against Jeff's (Fisher) team, they are going to rush the passer extremely well. I liked the way we stuck to our game plan."
On the other side of the ball, 2006 draft picks Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans continue to make a case for the Pro Bowl. Williams broke the Texans' single-season sack record, finishing with 2.5 sacks in the game to give him 8.5 this season. Ryans, meanwhile, had a game-high 14 tackles.
"He's been playing good all year," Kubiak said of Williams. "He's working hard. He's out there every snap – I think over 95 percent of the snaps for our team, which is unbelievable for a defensive end. I think he is becoming a fine player."
Also in the Pro Bowl hunt is kicker Kris Brown , who remained perfect from beyond 50 yards this season with a 50-yarder in the fourth quarter that made it a one-possession game. He also nailed a 45-yarder in the first half to give him 24 field goals on 27 attempts this season.
The Texans started strong thanks to an early dose of Dayne. His eight-yard screen pass and 25-yard rush off the left tackle on the opening drive set up the Texans' first touchdown. His dive into the end zone after a superb second effort stood as a touchdown even after Titans coach Jeff Fisher challenged the ruling on the field.
A 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on defensive end Earl Cochran , who made a late hit on running back Chris Brown, gave the Titans a first down at the Houston 28 with 6:17 left in the first quarter. Two plays later, quarterback Vince Young found tight end Bo Scaife open for a 16-yard gain to the Texans' 12-yard line. Running back Lendale White finished the 12-play drive with a one-yard touchdown dive that helped tie the score.
Schaub was injured on the next series after being sacked by defensive end Antwan Odom, and Rosenfels stepped in behind center on the next drive.
The momentum swung in the Texans' favor early in the second quarter when running back Chris Barclay fumbled a punt return and wide receiver André Davis recovered at the Tennessee 32. But safety Michael Boulware was called for holding on the play, negating the takeaway.
"That was huge in the game," Kubiak said of the penalty. "The weather was at that point pretty nasty. We've got the wind at our back there in the second quarter. We think we get the ball and are in good shape and then we have to do it all over again."
With 1:04 left before halftime, the Texans regained the lead when Brown capped the 10-play, 54-yard drive with a 45-yard field goal that made the score 10-7. Rosenfels completed his first four passes of the series to Johnson for 43 total yards.
With seven seconds remaining in the first half, Rob Bironas set up for a 54-yard field goal into the wind that fell short. After Jones' lateral to cornerback Fred Bennett on the field goal return, tight end Ben Hartsock made the tackle to end the second quarter.
The Titans took the lead on their second series of the third quarter when Young made completions of 20 yards and 43 yards to Justin Gage and Roydell Williams, respectively. Williams' double move on Hutchins resulted in the 43-yard touchdown that gave the Titans a 14-10 advantage after Bironas' extra point.
Tennessee followed up that scoring drive with a 12-play, 87-yard series that resulted in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Gage with 50 seconds left in the third quarter. Young completed each of his six pass attempts for 40 yards and rushed for 16 yards on two carries to lead his offense.
Houston responded with 12:14 left in the game when Rosenfels found Johnson open on a double move down the Texans' sideline for a 28-yard touchdown.
"We never thought we were out of it," Rosenfels said. "We knew as long as there was enough time that we were in the ball game. It was a good drive down the field and I hit Andre. They always have very good corners here in Tennessee, but they also like to jump routes, which is probably why they are so good. Andre took off on a slant-and-go and the corner bit a little bit. Andre, as good as he his, made a play."
Trailing 21-17, the Texans' defense forced a Tennessee punt, but Jones fumbled the return at the Houston 29. Safety Donnie Nickey recovered the loose ball for no gain, and two plays later Brown scored on a seven-yard touchdown run to give the Titans a 28-17 lead with 9:49 remaining in the game.
Bennett gave the Texans hope on Tennessee's next drive when he picked off Young's pass intended for Gage at the Houston 39 for no gain. Rosenfels then completed four of his first five pass attempts for 32 yards to lead the Texans into Tennessee territory. Brown finished the series with a 50-yard field goal to cut the Texans' deficit to eight points with 4:58 left in the game.
Williams' second solo sack of the game for a nine-yard loss put the Titans in a third-and-19 situation from their 38-yard line. Young scrambled 10 yards out of shotgun formation on third down, leading to a 37-yard punt from Hentrich.
With no timeouts and 2:50 left on the game clock, the Texans' offense began from its 14-yard line. After an incomplete pass on first down, Rosenfels' pass intended for wide receiver Kevin Walter sailed high and was picked off by safety Michael Griffin at the Houston 37 that all but ended the Texans' comeback.
A last-minute Houston drive was thwarted when Rosenfels was sacked by defensive tackle Tony Brown for an eight-yard loss.
The Texans (5-7) return to Reliant Stadium next Sunday for a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.