Defensive end Mario Williams recorded 2.5 sacks and wideout Andre Johnson notched 116 receiving yards, but the Texans fell to the Titans 28-20 in LP Field.
Mario downs Vince: Williams tried to downplay it, but his 2.5 sacks on quarterback Vince Young had to feel good.
"It's hard to get a sack just like it's hard for a running back to get 100 yards a game," Williams said. "That's kind of how I look at it. I don't think about it. I just try to go out there and try to make something happen."
Williams made a lot go down on the defensive side of the ball. His first sack on Young was for a five-yard loss late in the second quarter, preventing the Titans from scoring before halftime.
In the second half, the Titans tried double teaming the defensive end, but to no avail. Early in the third quarter, Williams teamed up with cornerback Von Hutchins to sack Young for a five-yard loss. Then midway through the fourth period, Williams threw down Young for a nine-yard loss, again helping to prevent the Titans from scoring.
"He played great," defensive end Anthony Weaver said of Williams. "It's a tribute to all of the hard work he has put in. I know he has put in the work in the film room and on the practice field. The results showed today. Sacks are a result of everybody, but in the end it still takes a special talent to sack the quarterback and that is what Mario is."
Williams established a new Texans record with 8.5 sacks this season, passing former Texans outside linebacker Jeff Posey, who had eight sacks in 2002. The second-year defensive end also finished the game with a career-high seven tackles.
"He's been playing good all year," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "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."
Riding the train: Running back Ron Dayne has been getting it done on the ground for the Texans. The 1999 Heisman Trophy winner came into Tennessee averaging more than 93 rushing yards a game in his last three contests. The Texans continued to ride the Dayne train against the Titans.
In his third consecutive start replacing an injured Ahman Green, Dayne carried the ball 18 times and notched 86 yards on the ground. He took the Texans to the end zone on the opening drive of the game, scoring on a one-yard run and flashing the Heisman pose in celebration.
"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."
'Dre breaks 100: The passing game had its own star in Johnson, who averaged 12.9 yards per catch on nine receptions. The Pro Bowler's 28-yard touchdown grab from quarterback Sage Rosenfels early in the fourth quarter got the Texans back into the game, making the score 21-17.
"It was a great throw," Johnson said. "We had been running a lot of slants earlier in the game. At that time, we ran a slant-and-go and Sage threw a great pass."
Johnson has registered 17 career 100-yard receiving games and 22 career touchdown receptions.
Sage against Tennessee: Rosenfels seems to find himself under center quite often against Tennessee. Last year, he relieved quarterback David Carr, throwing three touchdown passes at LP field.
Earlier this season, Rosenfels took over for quarterback Matt Schaub after the starting quarterback was knocked out of the game by defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
On Sunday, Rosenfels took over in the first quarter after Schaub left the game with a dislocated left shoulder.
"I think he always plays like a trooper," Kubiak said of Rosenfels. "He's always ready to play. He always finds a way to get things done."
Rosenfels finished the game with 185 passing yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Johnson.
"We tried to get back to our brand of football and that is to run the ball and get some play action off of that," Rosenfels said. "We did some good things, but it wasn't enough. We had two turnovers. At the end of the day, that cost us. But we did do some good things."
Brown's boots: Kicker Kris Brown booted in two crucial long-range field goals. Despite strong winds, Brown nailed 45- and 50-yard kicks.
The 50-yarder in the fourth quarter brought the Texans within a touchdown at 28-20. Brown is a perfect five-of-five on the season in field goals of 50 yards or more.
Injury report: Matt Schaub left the game in the first quarter after he was sacked by defensive end Antwan Odom. Rosenfels replaced him in the lineup.
"You never want to see a teammate, much less a fellow quarterback, go down," Rosenfels said. "It's not a good feeling. It wasn't a good feeling the last time we played them. It wasn't a good feeling this time."
No one felt worse than Schaub, who will receive an MRI on Monday.
"It is very frustrating," Schaub said. "I felt good coming into the day. I was seeing the field real well and felt good at the beginning of the game. It is disappointing and frustrating to have that happen."
Right guard Fred Weary was carted off the field on a stretcher in the second quarter with a broken leg. He will miss the rest of the season.
"That's a terrible feeling," Rosenfels said. "Fred works so hard on this football team. He works just as hard as anybody out there. He's sort of the silent player on our offensive line – he doesn't say much – but he's a very valuable member to our offensive line."
Chris White replaced Weary in the lineup. When White left the game with a season-ending knee injury in the second half, rookie Kasey Studdard replaced him.
"There's a lot of football to be played by Chris and Kasey," Kubiak said. "The future is now and those kids have got to step up and play. We'll go back and see how they did."