NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans players said enjoyed watching and having their hands in helping Chris Johnson record his sixth consecutive season with more than 1,000 yards rushing on Sunday in a 16-10 win against the Texans.
|Chris Johnson pushes through a tackle by Shiloh Keo for the go-ahead score. Click here for the slideshow from Tennessee's 16-10 win.|
Johnson took advantage when gaps opened and didn't shy from contact Sunday in Tennessee's season finale. There were plenty of hard hits from AFC South rival Houston. Johnson found himself picking up his helmet off the ground a couple of times, in a mosh pit of a pile another time and was tackled via the forbidden horse collar technique that included a hair pull but didn't deter him from the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.
"It was great to see. I knew Chris was going to come to play today," Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "CJ did a great job all day. You know, some tough runs, some tough yards. Almost broke a few of them for the big home run but ran hard all day. You could just tell he wanted it. He wanted to make sure that we were going to go out with a win and really try to carry the offense today and did a good job of it."
Johnson carried the ball 27 times for 127 yards with an 11-yard TD and a long of 23 yards that helped Tennessee add an important, season-long 55-yard field goal by Rob Bironas as the first half ended. Johnson was nominated for FedEx Ground Player of the Week (vote here for Chris Johnson).
The touchdown run appeared to be one of the easiest because of a hole created by Nate Washington and Delanie Walker doing what Washington called "something we always pride ourselves in."
"We've been taught to make sure you do everything you can to get him there and get him extra yards so that's what we wanted to do. It's our job to get those blocks," Washington said.
But the score included an awkward finish caused by a horse collar tackle and hair pull by Texans safety Shiloh Keo as Johnson crossed the goal line. Johnson, who hasn't missed a start, however, got up quickly and did a celebration dance.
Washington, a teammate of Johnson the past five seasons, said the rushes were "normal Chris Johnson stuff."
"That's what he's capable of. A lot of things have been said about him in the last couple of weeks but it's been difficult," Washington said. "I'm not going to speak for him, but the thing that's the most important to understand is it's just life. Football is all life, so for somebody to say negatives, that he doesn't have the want-to, it's insane. I think he gave everything he had to give and did exactly what CJ2K does."
Johnson finished his sixth pro season with 1,077 yards, becoming the sixth player in NFL history to have at least 1,000 rushing yards in his first six seasons. Johnson joined Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, LaDainian Tomlinson, Eric Dickerson and Corey Dillon as the only players to do so.
"It felt good out there," Johnson said. "It was very important to get the win, and we just knew if we were able to get the ball and keep our offensive line pushing those guys back like we did last week … we knew we would be pretty successful.
"You can just tell the effort we were giving out there," Johnson said. "We know we're not going to the playoffs and you can just tell we were not giving up and we really wanted to win that game."
Tackle Michael Roos said it was great to be part of Johnson's six 1,000-yard seasons.
"It's tremendous for him as an honor and fun for us that have been here," Roos said. "We wanted him to get to a thousand yards, and he ran hard. … We could just keep calling running plays."
The Titans ended the game with 151 yards rushing on 36 carries one week after having 182 net rushing yards on 44 attempts at Jacksonville.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said he was impressed with the way the run game ended the season strong.
"It was good to see him run against a good defense. It was a battle, that's a good, physical group up front. They won some, we won some. He ran hard. It was fun to watch that the last two weeks," Munchak said. "That's what we hoped you would have seen more of throughout the season. It was hard. It was hard for a lot of reasons with some injuries up front, at the running back spot and playing against the type of teams we've had to play against. Sometimes you're going to have weeks where you can't run it as good as you want. Then you have weeks like the last two where you did it exactly how you hoped you would. That was a good challenge, and I thought we answered well with that phase of the game."