For the fourth time in as many weeks, the Houston Texans took the field and walked off with a win, this time over divisional rivals the Tennessee Titans. Their current 4-0 record isn’t just the best in Texans’ history, it’s the best in Houston professional football history. The old Houston Oilers never had a start to the season like this, and of course neither have the Texans. Also noteworthy, whether it’s a record or not, is the fact that in all four games this season, the Texans have had a lead of 20 points or more at some point during the contest.
Sunday’s game with the Titans started off hot for the Texans, jumping out to a 14-0 lead following a Matt Schaub TD pass to FB/TE James Casey and a four-yard TD run by Arian Foster. From there however, the offense went stagnant for almost two full quarters.
The Texans still held momentum as the defense played stout, but midway through the third quarter the Titans scored on a TD pass from backup QB Matt Hasselbeck to TE Craig Stevens. In an instant, it seemed as if the Titans were right back in it and remained that way until halftime.
As the Texans’ offense continued to struggle well into the third quarter, they were given a huge boost by the defense, which was forceful all afternoon. With about nine and a half minutes remaining in the third, SS Daniel Manning intercepted a Hasselbeck pass and returning it 55 yards for a TD. It was the turning point in the game, sparking the beginning of a 24-0 run that also included TDs by Owen Daniels and another pick six by CB Kareem Jackson to run their lead to 38-7.
The Titans scored one more touchdown in garbage time to bring the final tally to 38-14.
The story was once again the Texans’ defense, which has unquestionably become one of the NFL’s top units and may have even improved from last year’s group that finished second in the league. Aside from the two interceptions, ILB Brian Cushing led the defense with ten total tackles and DE J.J. Watt recorded another two sacks to go along with three additional tackles for loss and two QB hits.
Despite the scoreboard, the game wasn’t perfect for the Texans, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The team struggled to run the ball again, gaining just 95 yards on 31 carries (3.1 yards per carry). The O-line struggled to open holes and get a push up front, allowing the Titans’ front seven to frequently play in the backfield. The O-line did, however, provide great overall protection for Schaub who had all day to throw.
Defensively, the only blemish on a near perfect performance was the fact that they gave up 141 yards on the ground to Titans RB Chris Johnson, who coming into the game had only 45 yards through three games. On several occasions, Johnson had huge holes to run through and for a change, didn’t dance and simply made one cut and hit the hole. Again, just a small blip on an overall dominant defensive performance, but it’s something to work on.
The Texans play again next Monday night when they travel to New Jersey to take on the New York Jets (2-2).
Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.