NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Houston (4-4) scored 27 unanswered points en route to a 30-16 victory against the Tennessee Titans (2-6) on Sunday from LP Field.
The Titans got a stop on the game's opening possession, followed by a 48-yard punt return by Dexter McCluster to Houston's 21-yard line. That set up a 35-yard Ryan Succop field goal to put the Titans up 3-0.
Houston answered with a 27-0 run that ultimately put the game out of reach, highlighted by three Arian Foster touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving).
The big story for the Titans was the first career start for rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who finished the day with 299 yards on 27 of 41 passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Both scores and 237 of Mettenberger's 299 yards came in the second half as Tennessee's offense finally got into rhythm.
Delanie Walker caught Mettenberger's first career TD, a six yard catch for the tight end's fourth score this season. The rookie ended his day engineering a six-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown to Justin Hunter. Mett went six-for-six on the series with Hunter catching his second TD of the season.
The Titans will take their 2-6 record into a week 9 bye before going to Baltimore in week 10 for a matchup with the Ravens.
• With 57 punt return yards on the day, Dexter McCluster now has more than 1,000 for his career. (1,054)
• With 37 receiving yards on the day, Delanie Walker now has more than 2,500 for his career. (2,511)
• Rookies Daimion Stafford and Avery Williamson recorded their first career sacks.
Total Yards – Ten: 326 Hou: 405
Rushing Yards – Ten: 36 Hou: 212
Third Down Efficiency – Ten: 2/12 (17%) Hou: 7/16 (44%)
Penalties (Yards) – Ten: 6 (61) Hou: 4 (35)
Turnovers – Ten: 2Hou: 0
That is no recipe for success, with rushing yards being the most alarming of all. The Titans continue to struggle to establish a consistent ground attack, while Arian Foster gashed Tennessee on Sunday.
Only six penalties is an improvement in terms of sheer numbers, but a majority of the Titans flags were drive killers for the team's offense. Third down is the same old song and dance – Tennessee went 0/5 in the first half and only managed two conversions all day.
Review of the Five Things to Watch
- The Mett Show**
The rookie had his ups and downs as expected, but ended with Mettenberger setting a franchise record for passing yards by a rookie quarterback in his first career start with 299 (Jacky Lee, 281 yards. 1960).
Mettenberger said after the game he wished he had let it rip more in the first half. Look forward to a more comfortable QB as the season progresses. Having two weeks to assess the tape against the Texans and prepare for the Ravens should go a long way in helping him take the next step.
2. Contain Watt
After a trivial first half, J.J Watt made his presence felt early in the third quarter. On the third play of the second half, Watt beat Michael Oher on his way to a sack and forced fumble of Mettenberger. Watt finished with two sacks and one pass defended.
3. Win the Turnover Battle
The Titans' streak of nine-consecutive games forcing a turnover ended Sunday. After going minus-two against the Texans, Tennessee's turnover ration is back to zero on the season.
- Keep Arian Foster Under 100-Yards**
Foster had another monster day, running for 151 yards and two touchdowns, while adding four catches for 22 yards and another score. Foster now has four consecutive 100-yard rushing games and six on the season. His 766 rushing yards this season rank second in the NFL.
5. Improve on Third Down
After going 3/11 last week in Washington, the Titans converted only 2/12 third downs against the Texans on Sunday.
Quote of the Game
"I will have to look at the tape and see. I thought he handled things well from a standpoint being able to run the huddle, get out of the huddle. We weren't close to getting any delay penalties, which is one of the things you look at. You know, as far as some of the throws early, I will have to look at them. I know we took some shots down the field and we just didn't connect on them. That's some of the things that maybe when he gets more feel, he settles down a little bit. He made those throws in the second half. So, I thought he did a nice job in the second half whether they were playing soft or not, he still made some throws and obviously being able to move the ball was concurrent."
– Ken Whisenhunt on the play of Zach Mettenberger