|Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans on a 1-yard run in the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Frederick Breedon)|
Titans look for answers after 41-7 loss to Texans
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Tennessee Titans spent their bye week trying to fix their run game.
Now, they have even more work to do.
The Titans finished with a season-low 148 yards on offense, Chris Johnson ran just 10 times for 18 yards and the defense missed tackles all over Sunday in a 41-7 rout by the Houston Texans.
Their second straight loss pushed the Titans (3-3) out of the AFC South lead and looking for answers.
"We've got to figure it out because you can't play like this and beat anybody," Titans coach Mike Munchak said.
The Titans managed only 14 yards of offense in the first quarter, while letting Arian Foster run for 48 of his 115 yards.
The Titans held the ball for just 22 minutes, 2 seconds and converted only 2 of 10 third downs. Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted twice with one returned for a TD, and he was surprised by the struggles after thinking the Titans were ready to play.
Backup running back Javon Ringer outgained Johnson with 31 yards rushing, and fans booed Johnson early and often.
Johnson said he was frustrated with the running struggles and that those who know football can tell what the problems are.
"I'm very confident that I've been doing the things that I've been having to do," Johnson said. "It's a situation where I continue to say that I can't do anything but keep running hard and working hard and doing what I can for this team."
Hasselbeck was 14 of 30 for 104 yards with a 38.8 passer rating, a big drop for a quarterback who had been the AFC's second-rated passer behind only Tom Brady coming into the game.
But receiver Damian Williams, who replaced the injured Kenny Britt at starter, had headaches after hitting the ground on a long pass play attempt and missed the second half.
The game got out of hand and Titans rookie QB Jake Locker came in with 9:32 left and completed his lone pass for 12 yards for his first NFL completion.
The Texans (4-3) snapped a two-game skid even with Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson missing his third straight game and fullback James Casey his second because of injuries.
Foster ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns and added 119 more receiving with a 78-yard TD as the Texans took back the division lead from Tennessee.
He became the first Texan with 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game. Matt Schaub threw for 296 yards and two TDs, and the Texans won in Nashville for the second time in three years.
"It's big going forward for us to know that's what we're capable of as a team," Schaub said.
Houston outgained the Titans 518-148 and had the ball for more than 37 minutes. Ben Tate ran for 104 yards, marking the first time the Texans have had two backs top 100 yards in the same game in their short history.
"It's hard to run on the road, and it was a very big game," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We get a chance to win like that and to grasp it and play the way we played in the second half is what made me feel good."
Tennessee managed to force Houston to punt on its first two drives. Then the missed tackles and penalties starting piling up as the Texans scored on six of the next seven possessions in blowing out their rival.
Neil Rackers started it with the first of two field goals. Danieal Manning's interception pinned Houston at its own 13, but Schaub finished off an 87-yard drive with a 10-yard TD pass to Joel Dreessen midway through the second quarter.
Houston needed four plays on the next drive when Schaub rolled to his right, stopped and threw back across the field to Foster who caught the ball and easily outraced the Titans to finish off a 78-yard TD for a 17-0 lead.
Schaub had been banged up in the past two games. Against Tennessee, he had plenty of time to throw and was rarely touched.
Foster capped a 92-yard drive by leaping over the top for a 1-yard TD, giving the Texans a 27-0 lead late in the third quarter that was so big they couldn't let it slip away as they did in the past two losses. He added a 5-yard run early in the fourth.
"I'm just starting to get back to my football shape," Foster said.
Going no-huddle with Ringer in for Johnson helped the Titans avoid the shutout, and Hasselbeck capped the drive with a 5-yard TD pass to Jared Cook with 5:34 left in the third.