The Tennessee Titans won their second division game in a row, improved to 8-4 and held on to the AFC South division lead.
As has been the case for much of this Tennessee Titans season, this win wasn’t pretty. The situation seemed dire early on and it took until the fourth quarter for the game to be resolved, but the Titans found another way to come away with a victory.
In the process, they improved to an outstanding 8-4 record and continue to lead the AFC South over the Jacksonville Jaguars. In addition, the Titans currently hold the third seed in the AFC and would be hosting a Wild Card Round playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens.
As mentioned above, the Titans didn’t get off to a hot start, something that has plagued them for much of this season. The Titans defense forced a quick three-and-out on the first drive of the game, but Adoree’ Jackson fumbled on the ensuing punt return and the Texans recovered. The defense held firm on a goal-to-go series from the four-yard line and held the Texans to a field goal.
The Titans proceeded to move the ball down the field, but Ryan Succop missed a field goal for the fifth time this season (all over the last six games). After swapping punts with each other, the Texans went on an impressive seven-play, 87-yard drive that ended with a Tom Savage to Stephen Anderson connection in the end zone.
Marcus Mariota and the Titans running backs responded immediately, leading the offense on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a Mariota rushing touchdown on a read option. The ground score marked Mariota’s third rushing touchdown against the Texans in 2017.
After Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 48-yard field goal, the Titans took advantage and rapidly moved 37 yards to cash in on a 43-yard Succop field goal to tie the game at 10 right before the halftime whistle.
A quick three-and-out to start the half by the Titans was followed by a 16-play, eight-minute drive by the Texans that once again resulted in a Fairbairn missed field goal; this time a 28-yard chip shot that was painfully hooked left.
As they did at the end of the first half, the Titans capitalized on the Texans’ missed opportunity and drove down the field, getting six points instead of three this time around. The Mariota and Delanie Walker connection was on full display on the go-ahead drive, as the duo hooked up three times for 55 yards, including the 24-yard touchdown.
The Titans offense was forced to punt on their next two possessions, allowing the Texans a field goal and a chance to take the lead with three minutes left in the game. Savage moved the ball relatively well on the drive and even somehow converted a fourth-and-19, but his subsequent pass was intercepted by LeShaun Sims, who made a great play on a ball intended for DeAndre Hopkins, in the end zone.
Needing to melt the clock away and facing a third-and-five, the Titans called on the closing pitcher, Derrick Henry, to finish it out. Henry took a misdirection pitch and out-sprinted the entire Texans defense for a 75-yard touchdown and an exclamation point to end the game.
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With the win, the Titans proved that losing close division games is a thing of the past for the Two-Tone Blue. Tennessee is now 4-1 in the division this season. They also continue to prove that playing at Nissan Stadium is tough for any team. The Titans are 9-1 in their last 10 home games and have won five in a row, and that’s no fluke: They have beaten the Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Texans by a combined 38 points at home in 2017.
Up next for the Titans is a cross-conference, cross-country matchup against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium, which is always a tough place to play. The degree of difficulty could be enhanced with the loss of DaQuan Jones to IR and the possible absence of Logan Ryan. The Titans might be getting Rishard Matthews back, though. It should be a fun one.