November 10, 2002
Titans Hold Off Texans
by Ric Sweeney
The Texans lost Sunday, 17-10, to Houston’s first NFL team, the Titans, who called the Bayou City home for 36 years before owner Bud Adams packed his bags and moved to Tennessee.
Steve McNair, who was drafted by the organization when it still called Houston home, was able to generate two long scoring drives for Tennessee, despite playing with a sore toe that limited his practice time all week.
The first of those drives came on the Titans’ second possession of the game, after Aaron Glenn ended the first with an interception. Behind McNair’s scrambling and Eddie’s George’s tough running, Tennessee moved 93 yards and scored the game’s first touchdown on McNair’s 13-yard pass to Derrick Mason.
After nearly 11 minutes of scoreless action, Tennessee broke through after Steve McKinney and David Carr miffed a center snap, setting the Titans up at the Texans’ 12-yardline. But Houston’s defense held, and the Titans had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Joe Nedney, giving Tennessee a 10-0 lead.
Behind the running of Carr and Jonathan Wells, the Texans finally put points on the board as the half came to close. Wells and Carr combined for 35 yards and Kris Brown nailed a 51-yard field goal with 1:11 left in the half to move Houston within seven, 10-3.
But Tennessee wasted no time increasing their lead in the second half, moving 66 yards on the opening drive. Again, McNair led Tennessee, scrambling for 30 yards before hitting Shad Meier from 17 yards out to hand the Titans a 17-3 lead.
But Houston’s offense continued to stall. Wells was stuffed on a pitchout on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 45 and later, after Marcus Coleman intercepted McNair in the Texans’ endzone, James Allen was stopped on third-and-1 from the 29. Finally, with 5:31 remaining, Houston mounted a scoring drive.
Carr completed 6 of 8 passes and converted a fourth down play before hitting FB Jarrod Baxter on a swing pass which Baxter took to the pylon, knocking Titans down in his wake. With 3:10 remaining, Houston was within seven, 17-10.
Playing conservatively, Tennessee ran three times and was stuffed by Houston’s defense, who used the team’s final two timeouts to give the offense the ball back at their own 46 with 1:52 on the clock. But Carr was sacked and then intercepted by Lance Schulters to end the game.
JaJuan Dawson The team’s third receiver emerged Sunday, catching 4 passes for 75 yards, including a tough one in front of two Titan defenders that he turned into a 28-yard gain. With drops still a problem, it’s nice to see a fourth target emerge.
Defensive Playmaking The Texans had gone 16 quarters without an interception prior to Sunday’s game. Aaron Glenn broke the string on Tennessee’s first possession, making a nice play on a ball. Later, Marcus Coleman not only ended a Titan threat, but kept the game within Houston’s reach by picking McNair off in the end zone.
Penalties Houston committed five penalties on the day, and, really, only one could be considered backbreaking — Billy Miller‘s hold wiped out a 10-yard rush by James Allen and kibosh’ed an early fourth quarter drive. Otherwise, Baxter’s hold, which did wipe out a 16-yard scramble by Carr, was redeemed by Brown’s 51-yard field goal, and two of the penalties were on Carr for intentional grounding. Much, much better…
Short Yardage Situations Needing less than a yard twice in the second half, Houston was stuffed both times, once on an ill-conceived pitchout to Wells, who was hit for a four-yard loss. Later, Carr ran a sneak to convert a fourth-and-short… where was that call earlier?
Snaps The wind did some funky stuff to Sean McDermott‘s second quarter snap, which left Chad Stanley running for his life. Later, it appeared McKinney hit his leg on an exchange with Carr, resulting in a turnover at the Texan 12. Long snaps have been erratic this year and this isn’t the first time we’ve seen problems with McKinney and Carr.
Not Taking Advantage Twice Houston’s defense forced turnovers, not an easy thing to do when the opponent is using a 19th century gameplan, including a potentially huge, game-changing interception on the day’s first series. And twice, Houston’s offense failed to capitalize, gaining all of 14 yards on the two ensuing series.
In a game really devoid of critical moments, Houston had one last chance to try and even the score with under two minutes to go in the game and fairly decent field position.
But on second-and-10, Carr was engulfed in Titans and dropped for an 8-yard loss, setting up a difficult third-and-16 from Houston’s 40. With Tennessee teeing off, Carr was again flushed from the pocket and picked off. But the sack really killed any chance Houston had of tying the score.
Offense JaJuan Dawson did drop some catchable balls, but he also made some plays Sunday. It’s going to take time for Carr and his receivers to generate chemistry, but if Dawson’s ready to step up and start contributing, Carr could have as many as four viable weapons at his disposal.
Defense Marcus Coleman’s late interception ended a potential scoring drive by Tennessee and kept Houston’s deficit at a manageable 14 points. Earlier, he knocked a pass down that would have gone for six.
Special Teams With a swirling wind that was so fierce, Jeff Fisher actually burned a timeout at the end of the first quarter to force Houston to pass into it, Kris Brown crushed a 51-yard field goal, proving yet again he has a hell of a leg.
Final 1 2 3 4 F Texans 0 3 0 17 10 Titans 7 3 7 0 17 PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 34 19 182 1/2 McNair 21 10 109 2/2 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 18 41 2.3 0 George 25 86 3.4 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Dawson 4 75 18.8 0 Mason 4 47 11.8 1
2002 Record: (3-5) 11.17.02 | 12pm
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review