|Defensive end Jason Babin tied his career-high with two sacks against his former team Sunday.
Babin's opportunity to stand behind quarterback Kerry Collins as Collins took a knee for the final time in the waning seconds was a unique reward for the defensive end who had spent the brunt of the day wreaking havoc in the Texans' backfield.
Babin, who was also a captain for the pre-game coin toss, tied a career-high with two sacks, forced a fumble and recorded two quarterback hurries and one tackle for a loss. It was even sweeter, he said, because it was against the franchise that drafted him in 2004 and sent him packing after playing him at outside linebacker for most of three seasons.
"That's just special," Babin said of the victory formation. "I asked Coach (Jeff) Fisher about it because it was my old team and I said, 'I want to be out there on the last play of the game.' Thankfully, he let me do it because, after the off-sides (penalty), I thought he was going to take it away from me."
Babin signed a one-year deal with the Titans this past offseason. He has 12 sacks this year—one shy of his total in three seasons with the Texans. He said the pressure that he and Tennessee's defense were able to apply on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub fed off the Titans' offense building a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
"Really it's the offense. The way I got to (pass rush often Sunday) is because they put up points," Babin said. "They ran the ball, they passed the ball. We got to just eat. I love this kind of game. This is a D-lineman's dream."
Schaub went 35-for-54 for 325 yards but was sacked four times and threw one interception. The Titans' defense was also credited with eight quarterback hurries.
"It was a physical game, Schaub said. "It always is against these guys. They bring a variety of pressures and things so you have to be ready to get the ball out and know that you are going to take some hits."
Babin did have at least one miscue when he was flagged for an off-sides penalty that negated an apparent 87-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jason McCourty.
"I lined up off-sides," Babin said. "Their center (Chris Myers) is pretty crafty. He knows how to position the ball. I'm not trying to make excuses."
McCourty said he didn't spot the flag until he had weaved through would-be tacklers and began celebrating in the end zone.
"After the touchdown, I started walking to the sideline and saw the flag on the ground," McCourty said. "I was kind of hoping that it would just be a block in the back. We executed in all three phases of the game today."
McCourty said he told Babin not to worry about the penalty because it is part of football.
Defensive tackle Jason Jones and linebacker Gerald McRath recorded the other sacks of Schaub.
Jones dropped the Houston QB for a loss of 9 on a third-and-three play from the Tennessee 33-yard-line, forcing a punt on Houston's second possession of the second half when the Texans trailed 24-10. McRath dropped Schaub for a loss of 10 inside the red zone, but Houston recovered for a 12-yard touchdown pass from Schaub to Andre Johnson on the next play to start the third quarter.
"The whole defense played well," Jones said. "The D-line (was) attacking, getting hits on the quarterback, getting hands in his face. That's what we pride ourselves in. We kind of took it personal when we went down there (on Nov. 28), how they ran the ball on us and with everything that happened in that game."
Tennessee's defense also stuffed the run, holding Arian Foster to a season-low of 15 yards on 11 carries. Foster entered the game leading the NFL in rushing and had 143 yards on 30 carries in the teams' first meeting—a 20-0 shut-out win by the Texans—this season.
Fisher said the Titans' defense is better equipped to defend the pass than the run, so it was important to get the lead early.
"We are built to defense 53 passes as opposed to 53 rushes. So we were able to rush the passer," Fisher said. "I was disappointed in the defensive off-sides, especially to take points off the board, but they rose up and got the ball back."