The Texans rebounded from their three-game losing streak with a convincing 30-16 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at LP Field.
"That last drive wasn't very good, but other than that, played a heck of a football game on defense," head coach Bill O'Brien said after the game. "I think offensively we were opportunistic with the field position that we were given. We need more touchdowns in the red zone. We can't come away with field goals all of the time there. I thought for the most part we got great kicking from Randy (Bullock) and Shane (Lechler) and that helped the field position, too. I think it was a great team win, give Tennessee credit, they played tough. It was a real good team win for us."
Arian Foster rushed his way to a fourth-consecutive 100-yard game and scored all three touchdowns for Houston. Foster gained 151 yards on 20 carries. Randy Bullock was a perfect 3-for-3 in field goals. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 19-of-35 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown in the win against his former team .
"I don't want to get into comparisons, I've played with some great backs and he's unbelievable," Fitzpatrick said of Foster. "It's a fun thing to watch as a quarterback, to hand it off and be back there, seeing what he's seeing and the cuts that he makes. He's a very powerful runner too, he's not just the finesse back, but he does a great job with the zone scheme stuff."
The Texans defense forced a pair of turnovers in the win. J.J. Watt had two sacks, one pass defensed, and a forced fumble on the rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Jadeveon Clowney also returned to the Texans lineup for the first time since his September 8 knee surgery.
"We have about four to five packages in the game and J.D. (Jadeveon) was a part of two of them and a lot of those involved situations during the game that maybe had to do with pass rush or two minute or third down or something like that," O'Brien said. "So, it had more to do with what type of package we were using and that's when J.D. would go in the game."
The Titans scored first after Dexter McCluster's punt return to the Texans 20-yard line set up a short field for Mettenberger's first NFL start. The Texans defense held Tennessee to just four yards on the scoring drive which ended in a 35-yard field goal to give the Titans an early 3-0 lead, their only lead of the game.
After three-consecutive punts to open the game, Fitzpatrick and the Texans offense gained momentum in the second quarter. Houston scored on back-to-back drives to take the lead.
Bullock's 30-yard field goal tied the game with 7:36 left in the second quarter after a 13-play, 54-yard drive.
After holding call on Tennessee, the Texans began their drive on a short field. Foster's 34-yard touchdown run ended the two-play series. Houston led 10-3 with 6:00 remaining in the second quarter.
D.J. Swearinger picked off Mettenberger with 2:01 left in the first half for his first interception of the 2014 season. The Texans took over at the Tennessee 48-yard line. Ten plays and 37-yards later, Bullock kicked his second field goal of the day from 29 yards.
The Texans defense began the second half by forcing another turnover. Watt's strip sack on Mettenberger set up a fumble recovery by defensive lineman Tim Jamison.
"I think the forced fumble is always a momentum changer, so that is really good for us to get the offense the ball back, especially in a scoring position like that," Watt said. "So I think that is a positive. I think there are plenty of things that I can learn from."
Three plays later, Foster added his second touchdown of the day on a five-yard catch. Houston extended its lead 20-3 with 12:39 left in the third quarter.
Foster's work wasn't done.
He found the endzone a third time on the Texans next drive, capping an 11-play, 98-yard drive that started on Houston's two-yard line.
"We did a good job of sustaining blocks and staying up there," Foster said. "I think as the season progresses we are getting more and more consistent. We would like to start faster. Last week we started fast but we didn't finish well. This week we didn't start fast, but we finished well. We are a little inconsistent, but there are sparks of being a very good offense and that is what we are working toward."
Mettenberger scored his first-career touchdown on the Titans next possession. Delanie Walker caught the six-yard pass but Tennessee was unsuccessful on the two-point conversion.
Bullock added his third kick of the day, a 49-yarder early in the fourth quarter. The Texans led 30-9.
Houston replaced many of its defensive starters late in the game. Mettenberger threw his second touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Hunter with just under one minute left in the game.
Tennessee attempted an onside kick following the score but Alfred Blue recovered it for the Texans. Fitzpatrick ended the game in victory formation for the final two plays of the game, ending a dominant 30-16 performance.
"We're 4-4 and there's a lot of football left and that was a division win which is important, very, very important and it's really good to win," O'Brien said. "It's really good to win."
The (4-4) Texans will next face the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9 before heading into the bye week.
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