NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Chris Johnson had a feeling he was destined for a big day. He ended up having an even bigger one than he could have possibly imagined. The second year running back ran for 197 yards on only 16 carries, reaching the end zone twice on the ground. The second-year phenom from Eastern Carolina University also added 87 yards receiving and another receiving touchdown.
Unfortunately for the Titans, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub had a huge day himself, throwing for 357 yards and four touchdowns on 39 pass attempts, while wide receiver Andre Johnson hauled in 10 passes for 149 yards a two touchdowns, leading the visiting Houston Texans to a 34-31 victory in Nashville.
The game was marked by big, exciting plays, but also by some extremely intense moments, as emotion levels rose high throughout the afternoon. That led to a series of skirmishes and ultimate ejection of defensive tackle Jason Jones.
"We are playing at home and have to protect our house," defensive end Jevon Kearse said. "No matter who comes here talking crazy or doing whatever they have to do, you have to make it known that this is our house and do whatever you can to protect it."
Despite all the energy and emotion the Titans put into Sunday's contest, they ultimately came up three points short. Kris Brown's 23-yard field goal in the closing minutes provided the winning margin and Kerry Collins' ensuing fumble ended Tennessee's bid for their first win of the 2009 season.
Along with Chris Johnson's outstanding performance, the game was highlighted by Houston's Andre Johnson, who torched Tennessee's secondary to the tune of 10 catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
"He is one of the most amazing people I've ever seen play football, regardless of the day that he had," Titans wide receiver Nate Washington said.
As for the Titans running back, Johnson's teammates could only marvel at his accomplishments.
"Chris is a very hard worker and today he came out and proved that everything that people thought he was, that's what he is," Washington added. "He did a great job of catching the ball when he had the chance, did a great job of running the ball when he had a chance and he showed his amazing speed today."
Johnson, meanwhile, seemed to deflect praise while still realizing that he had one of the most impressive individual showings in team history. On Johnson's big plays, which included touchdown runs of 57 and 91 yards, his offensive linemen and wide receivers made blocks down field to pave the way. In one such instance, Johnson actually grabbed guard Eugene Amano's jersey, pulling him in the direction to make a block that sprung him for the 91 yard dash.
"I have to give credit to my receivers and my offensive line for blocking down the field to get me some daylight, because they know once I get the daylight, I can make the big run," Johnson said.
The game was marred a bit by some dispute over a few officiating calls and an on-field scrum that occurred near the Texans sideline, ultimately spilling all the way back to the Texans' benches. One play in particular that ignited the crowd with both ire and excitement was a fantastic play made by rookie cornerback Jason McCourty. The Rutgers product was defending a punt return, and when Texans punt returner Jacoby Jones muffed the fair catch, McCourty was laying in wait and quickly grabbed the ball out of the air and brought it to the Texans 6 yard line. Unfortunately for McCourty, under NFL rules, the ball must touch the ground after a fair catch in order for the defense to grab it. As such, the referees called interference on McCourty.
"It's a tough one. Coach Fisher let us know that was the right call and the right thing that happened. So it's just something that you have to work at so if that same situation comes up again you'll be able to make that play," McCourty said.
Another Titan who had a wild day was Washington, who scored his first ever regular season touchdown for the Titans. On a wheel route that turned into a fade in the end zone, quarterback Kerry Collins hit Washington in stride as he barely got both feet in bounds. Washington was happy about getting his first score, but was disappointed in the total effort.
"It felt great but it means nothing when you get a loss," he said. "I think the main thing was, it felt good, but you just came up short. You didn't do enough today."