Skip to main content

Texans fall to Titans 31-12


Rookie running back Steve Slaton was tackled by the collar after a 50-yard gain.


*To learn about the "Texans helping Texans" Hurricane Ike relief campaign, click here.

*NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A breakout day by rookie Steve Slaton couldn't overcome the Tennessee Titans Sunday at LP Field.

In the Texans' first game since Sept. 7 after an unexpected bye week due to Hurricane Ike, the team lost their AFC South opener 31-12 to the Titans despite Slaton's impressive debut as a starting running back.

The third-round draft pick from West Virginia finished with a career-high 116 yards on 18 carries (6.4 avg.) with his first career touchdown to outshine Titans rookie running back Chris Johnson. Slaton had a career-long 50-yard run along with four catches for eight yards.

"I thought he was special in the game," coach Gary Kubiak said. "He played a lot of plays. We were going to rotate him, but he played so well we kept going with him. I liked the way he broke tackles. He just kept going and gave us a chance to make big plays.

"He has a chance to be a fine player; he's just got to keep going."

Despite Slaton's efforts, it was the Titans' stifling defense that sidetracked the Texans. Tennessee intercepted three passes, one of which was returned for a touchdown late in the game, and forced the Texans into a paltry third down percentage (3-of-15) and red zone efficiency (1-of-6).

Quarterback Matt Schaub was pressured into 17-of-37 passing for 188 yards. He was sacked three times and never found a rhythm with Pro Bowler Andre Johnson, who caught only two balls for 29 yards (14.5 avg.) and had two potential touchdown grabs glance off his hands.

"We just can't blame everything on Matt," Johnson said. "There were plays I should have made today and I didn't make them. It's not all his fault. In the game of football, you have to have 11 guys working at one time. One guy can mess up a whole play. We just have to keep everybody on the same page and go out and execute our plays."

The Texans' defense started strong when cornerback Jacques Reeves picked off quarterback Kerry Collins' pass and returned it 34 yards to the Tennessee 14 on the Titans' first play from scrimmage. On the play, Reeves stepped in front of wide receiver Justin McCareins on a skinny post route near midfield.

{QUOTE}Three plays later, Kris Brown's 44-yard field goal gave Houston an early lead.

Collins bounced back with 18- and 21-yard completions to wide receivers Brandon Jones and Chris Davis, respectively, that moved Tennessee into scoring range. On third-and-10 at the Houston 11, Chris Johnson gained nine yards after a short catch. Running back LenDale White rushed for a two-yard touchdown the next play to help give the Titans a 7-3 lead with 6:33 left in the first quarter.

On the first play of the Texans' ensuing drive, Schaub's pass intended for tight end Joel Dreessen was picked off at the Houston 33 by free safety Michael Griffin, who made a bobbling catch while falling down near the Titans' sideline. Kubiak challenged the interception, but the call stood.

The back-and-forth battle continued, though, when linebacker Zac Diles stripped McCareins at the Houston 22 on the second play of the Titans' possession. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans recovered the fumble and returned it six yards to the 28-yard line.

On the next snap, Slaton broke a tackle and sped around the left end for a career-long 50-yard gain to the Tennessee 22. A personal foul on safety Chris Hope, who was flagged for a horse collar tackle, moved Houston to the 11-yard line. After a fumbled snap and an incomplete pass, Schaub's pass to the corner of the end zone to tight end Owen Daniels fell incomplete, setting up Brown's 24-yard field goal.

With the Texans down 14-6 early in the second quarter, Daniels gained 32 yards on a screen. On third-and-two at the Tennessee 35, wide receiver Kevin Walter dove for three yards on an end around to keep the drive alive. Another first down catch by Daniels, followed by a six-yard scramble by Schaub, set up a third-and-one at the 11-yard line.

After Schaub's pass to Johnson sailed long in the end zone, Slaton picked up three yards on fourth down. Later, his six-yard rushing touchdown, the first of his career, made the score 14-12, but the extra point failed after a low snap.

White's second touchdown of the game with 4:36 left in the first half gave Tennessee a 21-12 halftime lead.

On the Titans' second drive of the third quarter, they began on their 40-yard line after Matt Turk's 40-yard punt. Collins' 32-yard pass to McCareins set up Rob Bironas' 44-yard field goal, which gave the Titans a 24-12 lead.

On the Texans' longest completion of the game, Schaub connected with wide receiver André Davis on a 49-yard bomb to the Tennessee 31. On the play, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was flagged for roughing the passer, moving the Texans 15 yards to the Titans' 16-yard line. On fourth-and-four at the Tennessee 10, though, Schaub's screen pass to Slaton was stopped for a one-yard gain, giving the Titans the ball with 5:20 left in the third quarter.

Another Texans drive stalled after a failed fourth down conversion early in the fourth quarter when Slaton was stopped at the one-yard line on fourth-and-goal. Four plays earlier, Johnson caught a 13-yard pass on fourth-and-three at the Tennessee 17.

After the game, Kubiak discussed the failed fourth down conversion in the third quarter.

"Even if we kick a field goal, we are still two scores away," he said. "We need to be aggressive as a football team and work through this. We called zone coverage; we had a screen on. I feel pretty good about the play. I think it was fourth-and-four, but we didn't get one of our guys out. One of our linemen out got held up, which that stuff happens, and they made the play."

After a Tennessee punt with 5:01 remaining in the contest, Schaub attempted another fourth down pass to Johnson, but it was picked off by Griffin at the Titans' 24-yard line.

Jacoby Jones' 33-yard punt return, which resulted in a first down at the Tennessee 22 after a 15-yard personal foul penalty, gave Houston a late spark near the two-minute warning.

But Schaub was pressured on third-and-four at the Titans' five-yard line, which caused him to throw an errant pass that cornerback Cortland Finnegan intercepted and returned 99 yards for a touchdown.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content