1st Quarter (Momentum Titans)
Matt Schaub and the Texan offense sputtered out of the gate and were unable to create any points, despite playing a depleted Titan defensive front (Jason Jones, Tony Brown, and Dave Ball did not play). However, it was clear early that the Titans were going to be in for a long day of trying to stop Arian Foster without the help of their usually deep rotation of defensive linemen.
Michael Roos started the game off on his back and surrendered a sack (Mario Williams) on the first play from scrimmage. It only went down hill from there. Rusty Smith may be an NFL starting quarterback sometime in the future, but that time is not going to be this season. In his defense, the first drive ended on a drop by Justin Gage. The quarter ended tied at 0.
2nd Quarter (Momentum Texans)
The Titans started the second quarter with the ball deep in their own end zone and Smith crumbled under the pressure. Again, in his defense, the fourth drive collapsed after a disastrous end around to Nate Washington. The play call is easy to question come Monday, but the desperation Mike Heimerdinger must have felt to pull out such a play is unmistakable.
The Texans quickly capitalized, thanks to a complete blown coverage by the Titan defense (Joel Dreessen 1-yard TD reception). The fifth drive for the Texans was the only NFL quality drive of the entire game (9 plays – 71 yards), ending with an Andre Johnson 2-yard TD reception. The Texans looked poised to strike before halftime… enter William Hayes.
3rd Quarter (Momentum Texans)
With a half’s worth of film, the Texan defense completely committed to stopping Chris Johnson (7 rushes, 5 yards). This left any hope of a Titan rally in the hands of the rookie from Florida Atlantic. Between Smith’s errant throws, (17-31, 138 yards, 3 INT) and the Titan receivers’ drops, the Titan offense only managed 5 yards of offense on 12 plays from scrimmage in the 3rd quarter.
Gary Kubiak, sensing the game was already in the bag with a 2-score lead, drained the life out of this snooze-fest with a heavy dose of Arian Foster (30 rushes, 143 yards; 9 receptions, 75 yards). The Titan defense (injury depleted) and exhausted from being on the field nearly 40 minutes, still only allowed the Texans across midfield for a field goal (Neil Rackers 35-yards).
4th Quarter (Match Texans)
The Titans and Texans exchanged meaningless drives to start the fourth quarter, setting up the Fisher Sequence of the week.
Because Jeff Fisher likes to keep games close, Titan fans of the last 17 years know that every game will come down to a series of plays, or what I like to call the “Fisher Sequence.”
After another quality Marc Mariani punt return and personal foul penalty on the Texans, the Titans found themselves in Texan territory for the first time in the game. Another Texan penalty (Pass interference) pulled the Titans even closer to the end zone. From the Texan 12-yard line, CJ gained 3 easy yards on first down and the ball was placed in Smith’s hands to make a play.
Smith promptly threw another floating interception. Interestingly enough, the Texans handed the ball to their star runningback on the next 5 straight plays. The lesson? When the game is on the line the ball has to be in the hands of the best / most reliable player on your team. The drive ended in another Rackers FG (33-yards) and served as the last nail in the Titan’s coffin.
FINAL: Titans 0 – Texans 20
Two quick thoughts on Cortland Finnegan vs. Andre Johnson. One, Finnegan is an antagonizing player. His goal was to get inside Johnson’s head. Looks like he succeeded. Again. Two, Johnson should know better. Your team is up 20-0, in your home stadium, and you cannot control your emotions? Point to the scoreboard and have some thicker skin.
This fight, and the Texan’s reaction to it, demonstrate this franchise still has a loser mentality. Then again, the Texans are poised to sweep the Titans for the first time in franchise history. Again. We will see if this is finally the year the Texans climb out of the AFC South cellar. I doubt it. But then again, I doubted the Titans would miss the playoffs after a 5-2 start.