Titans get offensive in victory over Houston

Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 11:20pm

The red zone had been a danger zone all season for the Tennessee Titans.

But on Sunday, Tennessee’s much-maligned offense finally found the end zone, scoring four touchdowns en route to a 28-20 victory over the Houston Texans at LP Field.

In the process, the Titans stopped a three-game losing streak, improved to 7-5 and also bolstered their sagging hopes for an AFC wild-card berth. Arizona also provided the Titans help on Sunday, knocking off Cleveland 27-21, leaving the Browns 7-5 as well.

The Titans turned all three of their trips inside the Texans’ 20 yard line into touchdowns, then added a 43-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to Roydell Williams as well. All this was no small feat for a Titans team that had previously scored just 12 touchdowns in 40 red zone visits and had just 18 trips to the end zone in its first 11 games.

“When we got in the red zone, we took it to heart, knowing that the red zone has been our toughest point this year. That’s something we’ve got to focus on, and we got it corrected today,” said receiver Justin Gage, whose 11-yard touchdown catch gave the Titans a 21-10 lead in the game.

Defensively, the Titans weren’t dominant, but were good enough, knocking Texans quarterback Matt Schaub from the game in the first quarter, then getting a late interception by Michael Griffin from backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels late to ice the victory.

At the outset, it looked like more of the same, as the Texans drove 74 yards in nine plays to take a quick 7-0 lead. In each of Tennessee’s previous three losses, the Titans never led.

Linebacker Keith Bulluck said there was no sense of panic on the sideline, despite the quick deficit.

“You come home and play a game in front of your home crowd, and even when you do get down, it’s a little bit easier to fight back,” Bulluck said.

Suprisingly, the Titans fought back with offense, countering with a touchdown of their own on their opening series. The Titans marched 72 yards in 12 plays, with LenDale White capping the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

After falling behind 10-7 at halftime, the Titans responded with perhaps their best offensive half of football this season. Tennessee sputtered on its opening series of the second half, but after forcing a Houston punt, needed just two completions from Young to take the lead. After reaching the Texans’ 43, Young pumped then hit a wide-open Williams in stride for the go-ahead touchdown.

“Our intention was to come out in the second half and actually open it up a little bit,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.

Young, who completed 21 of 31 passes for 248 yards, said he and his receivers took the challenge put before them in the second half, making the Texans’ defense pay with big plays downfield.

“They’re basically telling us, ‘Vince you can’t make that throw and receivers can’t make that catch.’ We’re going to have to show them, receivers can make that catch and I can make that throw,” Young said.

Young and the Titans added another third-quarter touchdown on Gage’s reception before the Texans cut the lead back to four points on Rosenfels’ 28-yard TD toss to Andre Johnson.

But again, the Titans answered the call, this time thanks to special teams, followed by the rushing of Chris Brown.

Tennessee had been forced to punt, and Houston’s Jacoby Jones disdained the fair catch, only to be stripped of the ball by the Titans’ Eric King. Teammate Donnie Nickey fell on the ball at the Texans’ 29.

“I just wanted to put my team in position to where we could win a game,” King said. “As I was running down the field, I kind of saw that the returner hadn’t made a fair catch signal, and after that I just kind of wanted to unload, and the ball was on the ground, and we came up with it.”

From there, Brown took a handoff and went 22 yards, including a nice spin move for extra yardage, reaching the Houston 7. Brown took the ball on the next play and turned the corner around the left side for the touchdown that again gave Tennessee a two-score advantage with 9:49 to play.

After that, the Titans allowed a 50-yard field goal to Kris Brown but sealed the game late on Griffin’s interception.

“The quarterback was trying to throw it, but he couldn’t make a good pass because he got hit. You have to make the plays when they come to you,” Griffin said.

On Sunday, the Titans did that and it helped them take a step back in the right direction.

“It’s not a matter of being back or anything,” Bulluck said. “We’ve just got to keep playing. It’s a matter of getting there now, and there is the postseason.”

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By: serr8d on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Great game! Fewer fans than I would have liked to see, but we can blame the weather.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Yes great game, but according to Frank Brown we will only win one more. Which one do we win, Frank? Seriously though, we need to run the table. Cleveland and Jacksonville losing was a good thing. Welcome back big Al!

By: serr8d on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Well, I think we'll win the final home games (next week with San Deigo, and Dec. 23 when the Jets visit) and probably win in Kansas City.The problem is the final game with Indy. Unless the Colts are smart and give Peyton a rest, then we've some issues there I think.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

But, we have played them well in the last three matchups, if we are healthy we have a very good chance.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 7:00

If they were to win three more games,it would sure help their average of 8 and 8. They were beginning to get behind.

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

This might have been the first game all year where the WRs and VY seemed to be running the same play, it was a nice change.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Although predictions are worthless, I shall add mine: The Titans will lose to the Chargers & beat the Jets. The game w/ the Chiefs is a toss-up, and the game w/ the Colts depends on how close the Jaguars remain w/ the Colts. If the Colts are still fighting for the week off, then Manning may play; if not, then the Titans have a chance, but I still don't see it. The Colts, even w/out Manning, are better than the Titans. Most likely scenario: 9-7, which makes the playoffs if the Browns falter. Currently, the Browns hold the tie-breaker w/ the Titans.Last question, though: Does any of it matter considering the way my Patriots are playing?

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

MJB, not sure why you think we can't beat Indy if Peyton is playing. As I said earlier, look at the last three games we have played against them, all close and we won one of them, and Indy has not been playing well lately. If we win the next three, we should have more on the line than Indy. But first things first, beat the chargers.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 7:00

You might be right, Titan. As I said, predictions are worthless. The Colts looked pretty good w/out Marvin Harrison, and I misspoke: The Colts' schedule is pretty easy these next few weeks. They have the division title wrapped up. They may relax against the Titans, who will probably need the win to ensure the wild-card. At the same time, going over the game in September, it wasn't as close as the score indicated. The Colts had four more first downs & seventy more yards & completed more passes. At the half, the game was 16 to 6. It was mostly over.Anyway, it would help if the Titans beat the Chargers, but all is not lost if they don't.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

You can blame it on the rain or whatever, but it only proves that Nashville is not a professional sports city.The same thing happened in the last home game last year, when the Pats came to town. It rained the entire first half and the stadium was maybe half full, despite the fact that the team was playing for a playoff spot. Football fans should be embarrassed.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I was there to the end, but if you decide not to go, sell or give your ticket to someone. For everyone that that has a ticket and decides not to go, there is someone that will gladly take your ticket and sit in your seat. I respect you gdiafante, but I think this is a great Pro sports city, but some fans with tickets are just too lazy to to even try to sell or give away their ticket.

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"Football fans should be embarrassed."Yes, they should. It wasn't even cold, it was down right pleasent, just a smattering of rain."great Pro sports city" Titan1 please show some evidence that would support your theory. While I've hammered away at the Preds, Nashville SHOULD be able to come up with 14000 people to go to the dang games. And then we have this NFL Football game vs a divison opponent, while we are in a push to try and make the playoffs and people stay at home. It's not the end of the world, but it's certianly not good.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

BP, please read the complete post.

By: Socrates on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Because you LOSERS could not beat Cincinnati Bengals. Any more brillant questions TitansRLosers? A great Pro sports town is another way of saying LOSERVILLE! And it is not that the ticket hoders are too lazy to sell or give away their tickets it is that no one wants them.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Is school out already?

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I thought elementary didn't let out until about 3:00.

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Titan1, if you know anyone who wants to get rid of their tickets let me know, I'd be glad to use them.Unfortunately I think it is the corporate tickets that are going unused, people who love football like I do will watch and go to any game, the weather is not going to stop us. I cannot afford to buy season tickets but I do buy a couple a year for the Titans and several a year for the Preds. I don't know if we are a great sports town or not but I know that we are a much better town with the Titans and Preds than we are without them.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Will do Cowboy84, someone had two extra at our tailgate and gave them to someone. As I said, for every ticket holder who can't go, there is someone who does want to go.

By: tiphani on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Serr*d...I decided to take a look at your pic link above,(lots of free time today...to bad there are no good stories to comment on!) and I just wanted to let you know that I was offended by the caption under the tuba player about only looted tubas in New Orleans. I just wanted to let you know how crude I found that to be, but you probably don't care. God Bless