After an uncharacteristic three interceptions in his Week 9 return at Miami, QB Tyrod Taylor vowed to play better.
And he did.
After a week off to self-scout during the bye, Taylor delivered in a 22-13 victory against a Titans team that was first in the AFC and amid a six-game win streak. Taylor scored a career-high two rushing touchdowns and completed 14-of-24 passes for 107 yards and no interceptions. He also added six carries for 28 yards.
"That's the thing about when you have mobile quarterbacks," Head Coach David Culley said. "They basically have everything covered down the field, and when they got covered down the field, there's nobody assigned to him. When you're mobile like he is, you get those kinds of plays. He actually did it a couple of other times to get us some positive yardage when we could have gotten negative yards on the play."
The Texans hadn't scored a touchdown on the road since the fourth quarter of their Week 2 loss at Cleveland. Taylor exited that game at halftime with a hamstring injury that would land him on IR and cause him to miss the next six games.
On Sunday, in pouring rain at Nissan Stadium, Taylor scrambled and leaped into the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown to cap off a seven-play, 76-yard scoring drive. While wet conditions were a factor, the Texans worked around the conditions to keep the chains moving.
"I think it definitely added to it, but it was also just the flow of the game," Taylor said. "Obviously, when you get conditions like this, some stuff we feel comfortable with, some stuff you have to get away from. So the conditions slow down a little bit, but I think Coach (Tim) Kelly had done a great job of calling the game today and putting the guys in the right position to go out and make plays. Guys up front did a great job of handling their front seven. Receivers made plays on the back end when the opportunity presented itself."
The Texans converted six first downs on the series, including a 13-yard catch by Chris Conley to start the drive and a 10-yard reception by Brandin Cooks. Ka'imi Fairbairn, who made two field goals from 43 and 24 yards, missed the extra point attempt as the Texans took a 12-0 lead with 7:43 left in the second quarter.
Although the Texans scored 12 points on their first three possessions (two field goals, one touchdown), the offense struggled in the second half. Houston received the ball to start the third quarter and scored on its second possession with another Taylor rushing touchdown. After recovering a muffed punt at the Titans' five-yard line, Taylor scrambled in for a five-yard rushing touchdown to give the Texans a 19-0 lead with 7:00 remaining in the third quarter.
After that score, Houston punted on four consecutive drives where they went three-and-out.
"Our first and second down wasn't as efficient as early on in the game," Taylor said. "I think that's when we're at our best. Obviously, when you're standing 30 minutes and when you're getting second and shorts or second and medium versus second and long or not getting what you wanted to get on the first down, so have to be better at that area, but overall, it was a great job of overcoming some of that. The defense played well. Special teams played their butts off as well. Hats off to the guys in our locker room."
A pair of interceptions by the defense in the fourth quarter led to two drives that began in Tennessee territory, at the Titans' 15 and 48-yard lines.
"It was a win for us, obviously, but it wasn't a perfect game, so there's still stuff to clean up," Taylor said. "I mean, we'll do that, but like I mentioned to you guys last week, and like, we spoke in the locker room and in our team meetings, 1-0 mindset, we got to continue to keep taking that for the rest of the season."
Through four starts this season, Taylor has thrown for 763 yards, completing 62.2 percent of passes for three touchdowns, three interceptions while rushing for 106 yards on 14 carries (7.6 yards average) and three touchdowns.
With the win, the Texans improve to 2-8 on the season and will return to NRG Stadium for a three-game home stretch against the New York Jets, the Indianapolis Colts and the Seattle Seahawks.
See the Texans at NRG Stadium November 28 as they host the New York Jets in Week 12. Kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.