HOUSTON — The Tennessee Titans might have lost more than just a football game Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the anchor of the defensive line, left the game after injuring his left knee with 1:38 to play in the 13-12 loss to the Houston Texans.
Haynesworth was down on the field for several moments and had to be assisted to the sidelines. He was walking with a limp after the game, and declined comment when reporters asked to speak to him.
Last year, Haynesworth suffered a hamstring injury in the middle of the season, and the Titans lost all three games he missed.
This year, the Titans have played better when Haynesworth has been out of the lineup, but they are already short-handed on the defensive line with end Kyle Vanden Bosch missing Sunday’s game with a groin injury and tackle Kevin Vickerson suspended for the rest of the regular season after violating the NFL’s steroids and banned substances policy.
“It looked like out on the field, just hearing his moans and groans that it sounded like he was going to be out for a minute,” defensive end Jevon Kearse said. “But just seeing him walking around the locker room, it looks very promising. I know when I had my major injury a few years ago, there wasn’t any way I was going to be walking any. So I know it’s not that bad at least.”
Defensive tackle Tony Brown described what happened as Haynesworth got trapped under the pile and the leg bent in the wrong direction.
“He just kind of got rolled up in the trash, all the guys on the ground. Hopefully, everything is all right with him,” Brown said.
Life without Haynesworth is not a proposition the Titans want to think about as they head for the stretch run trying to earn home-field advantage.
“I’m not sure exactly what happened to him, but anytime he’s not in there, it’s definitely a problem,” safety Chris Hope said.
Added linebacker David Thornton, “Hopefully, his injury isn’t very serious and he can bounce back. We definitely need that guy in the trenches for us.”
GOOD AS IT GETS: Andre Johnson struggled with some costly drops the last time the Titans and Texans played at LP Field. He atoned for his sins on Sunday, catching 11 passes for 207 yards, giving him 103 receptions for the season.
When it was over, he had made believers out of the Titans’ defense, especially in the first half as he caught eight passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
“He ranks No. 1 or 2 right there as the best receiver in the game. Credit him for making some plays today. He’ll be in Hawaii and on the All-Pro team,” said cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who gave up a 40-yard catch to Johnson. “They put him in slot and moved him around, which they didn’t do in the first game.”
PENALTIES: Finnegan had a rough day penalty-wise, getting flagged for a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub that kept a Houston drive alive. He later was called for spearing on the same drive against Texans tight end Owen Daniels. Finnegan also had a pass interference penalty, giving him three flags for 35 yards.
“It’s all donated to charity,” Finnegan said of the two personal fouls that likely will draw him fines from the league office.
NO SURPRISE: The Titans executed what looked to be a surprise onside kick with two seconds left in the first half, then had Kerry Collins take a knee on the half’s final play.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher said the play was not intended to be a surprise onside kick, but just to prevent the Texans from pitching the ball around on the final play before halftime.
“It was not a surprise onside kick. It was a kick that we didn’t want lateralled around with both returners back there. So we were going to kick it 11 yards. I was surprised we got it, but it was not a surprise onside kick,” Fisher said.
IN ATTENDANCE: George Bush, the 41st President of the United States, and father of sitting President George W. Bush, was in attendance at Sunday’s game.