Titans Lose 2nd Game of the Season - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Carrie Anderson

Titans Lose 2nd Game of the Season

HOUSTON (AP) - Never mind that they've already clinched the AFC

South and a first-round playoff bye, the Tennessee Titans are

miffed about their 13-12 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday.

A letdown could be expected after securing their playoff spot

last week, but a win against Houston and a Pittsburgh loss later

Sunday would have secured home-field advantage throughout the

playoffs.

Now, next week's game against the Steelers will have much more

meaning.

"Hopefully we'll be up for the challenge and guys will come

back from vacation," linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "I think we

were on vacation this week, knowing we got a bye and whatever other

good stuff happened for us last week. But I know as a team we need

to get our heads out of our (expletive) and come out and play

football. Pittsburgh is playing for way more than us next week."

Andre Johnson had a career-high 207 yards receiving and a

touchdown, and Kris Brown added a pair of field goals to lead the

Texans to their fourth straight win.

Already eliminated from playoff contention, the Texans (7-7) are

shooting for the first winning season in franchise history. Sunday

marked the first time they've won four games in a row, and the

victory snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Titans.

"They weren't doing that well, but it was their Super Bowl and

credit them for being the good team today," Titans cornerback

Cortland Finnegan said.

Johnson struggled in Houston's first game against Tennessee

(12-2), finishing with just 29 yards receiving and dropping two

would-be touchdown passes. On Sunday, Johnson got going early, with

eight catches for 154 yards before halftime. It was the most

first-half yards receiving in the NFL this season.

Johnson put the Texans up 10-3 with a 13-yard touchdown catch in

the second quarter. He set that up when he got in front of Michael

Griffin for a 65-yard catch-and-run four plays earlier.

He has a career-high 1,408 yards receiving this season.

"Andre was special today," coach Gary Kubiak said. "The

reason he's special is because I can move him all over the place

and it doesn't bother him."

Johnson had more than a little help from his defense. The Texans

held Tennessee to 100 yards rushing after the Titans had gained 527

in the previous two games. It was the first time they didn't score

a touchdown since a 17-6 loss to the Chargers in last year's AFC

wild card playoff game.

With two minutes left, the Titans went for it on fourth-and-3

from the Houston 32, but Kerry Collins' deep pass to Justin

McCareins flew just out of his reach.

"That field goal may have won us the game, but I think we did a

lot of things to lose the game before that," Bulluck said. "I

think Coach (Jeff Fisher) made the decision he needed to make."

Fisher said he thought the kick wasn't in Rob Bironas' range.

"It was not a good coaching decision," Fisher said.

Tennessee's LenDale White put the loss in perspective.

"It's a big win for them as an organization," White said.

"(But) no matter what they do, they'll still go home (during the)

playoffs. We have a lot to look forward to."

Steve Slaton's runs helped the Texans to one more first down and

Houston ran out the clock. Slaton had 24 carries for 100 yards. He

had 116 yards rushing in the teams' first meeting, making him the

only player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Titans this

season.

"The thing that has impressed us so much about this kid is that

he seems to run better at the end of games," Kubiak said. "For a

small player he gets stronger as the game goes on."

The Titans had to settle for a 34-yard field goal that made it

13-12 when Mario Williams tackled Collins short of the first down

on third-and-12 with about 5 1/2 minutes to play.

Brown's 24-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter pushed

Houston's lead to 13-9. Finnegan had two costly penalties on that

drive, one for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Matt Schaub and another

for spearing when he jumped head first to make a tackle.

Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was injured near

the end of the game when his left leg was caught under the pile. He

remained on the turf for several minutes while Titans officials

looked at him. He finally got up and hobbled off the field.

Fisher didn't have an update, but his teammates were concerned.

"We shouldn't have lost this game," defensive end Jevon Kearse

said. "We had plenty of chances to win this game and then for one

of our big defensive players to go down ... hopefully if he's not

able to go next week we have somebody else who can step in and pick

up the slack."

NOTES: Texans CB Antwaun Molden broke his ankle and will miss the

last two games. ... Slaton has 1,124 yards rushing this season to

set the franchise record for yards rushing by a rookie.

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