Winning should never be taken for granted in the NFL. Each week players put their bodies through tremendous punishment just to attempt to prevail on a given Sunday. Coaches spend countless hours game-planning, often to have their hard work yield nothing.
You could say the stakes vary week to week but getting a notch in the win column is an achievement that usually results from a monstrous effort and much sacrifice.
The Texans latest accomplishment, a 27-20 victory over Tennessee, will hardly be filed in the next 'Greatest Games Ever Played' video. But it was hugely important as the team has built a two game lead in the AFC South after the first quarter of the season.
Playing after a landslide loss at New England and playing without J.J. Watt for the first time since the 2010 season finale made it even more crucial the Texans do something positive early. And they did.
All week long we warned you that the Tennessee defense had been playing well. Their 1-2 start was largely because of turnovers and other mistakes. When the Texans scored on the first three possessions it looked like this one might be a nice Sunday afternoon stroll.
Then a storm broke out. The Titans scored the next two touchdowns to tie the game and announced they would not go down easy. Tennessee's defense got tougher, with two picks and numerous stops to keep their squad in it. Ultimately it was the Texans' special teams and defense that helped pick up the slack on the way to the win.
Will Fuller V was once again remarkable. The career best seven catches were one thing but the team's first punt return for a touchdown in three years was a game changer. Fuller is now the team's leading receiver as DeAndre Hopkins was held to one catch on the day.
C.J. Fiedorowicz came out smoking with four grabs and a touchdown. The tight ends as a group have a combined 25 receptions. That's only 17 away from their total from last season and we have 12 games to go.
The pass rush wasn't spectacular but Marcus Mariota could hardly get comfortable and had a subterranean 54.1 quarterback rating. Houston did give up over 100 rushing yards but that's the Titans' new calling card and the defense got better as the game went on, holding Tennessee to just three points after intermission.
There's no time for reflection. Minnesota is up next, followed by the Colts and a Monday night showdown at Denver. There is much to improve. Brock Osweiler will work on taking better care of the ball. Houston needs to get Hopkins more involved. The pass rushers need to get to the quarterback more often and slow down the run. And special teams has to keep the momentum going. But Sunday was a big step in the right direction after a tough ten days that began with the loss to the Patriots.
Check out the best game photos as the Texans took on the Titans at NRG Stadium.