November 29, 2004
So That’s What It Feels Like
by Ric Sweeney
For once, the city of Houston and their fans were on the right side of a choke. Not surprisingly, the team coughing up the seemingly insurmountable lead Sunday at Reliant Stadium was the team that once redefined "choke" when they were known as the Houston Oilers.
The Texans overcame an 18-point second quarter deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans, 31-21, to snap a three-game losing streak. The win marked not only a season sweep of a divisional rival for the first time in franchise history, but equaled Houston’s best-ever win total at five. The Texans have five games remaining to set a new mark beginning next week against the Jets in New York.
The Texans fell behind early, yielding touchdowns on Tennessee’s first two drives. On the opening possession of the game, Steve McNair connected on all four of his passes, hitting TE Erron Kinney from 12 yards out to give Tennessee an early 7-0 lead. Not faring so well, David Carr’s first pass was picked off by Seth McGarrahan and McNair was again perfect, completing all three passes after the TO, hitting Kinney again to push the Titans in front, 14-0, just 9:10 into the game.
But the Texans bounced back. Domanick Davis busted loose for 27 yards on his second carry of the day, pushing into Tennessee territory. But the drive stalled at the 11 where Kris Brown nailed a 29-yard field goal to get Houston on the board, 14-3.
Tennessee got back on track as the second quarter opened, getting an assist from Dunta Robinson, who was whistled for a 16-yard pass interference penalty, setting the Titans up at the Houston 4. From there, McNair threw his third touchdown of the young day, hitting Derek Mason to increase Tennessee’s lead, 21-3.
But Houston responded. Carr completed all four passes on the ensuing drive, moving the Texans to the Tennessee 7 where Jonathan Wells powered left and swept into the end zone to draw Houston closer, 21-10. But the Texans blew a chance to slice further into the lead as the half wound down.
Carr again led Houston down field, but a last-second field goal attempt from Brown was blocked. Undaunted, Carr roared out of the second half gates.
On the opening drive, he completed all six passes, including a 14-yard strike to TE Billy Miller to cut further into Tennessee’s lead, 21-17. From there, the Texan defense took over.
After forcing a three and out, Gary Walker forced a fumble on Tennessee’s next possession that DeShon Polk recovered at the Titan 26. Carr capitalized, hitting Miller again for 10 yards before finding Andre Johnson from 11 yards out to put Houston ahead to stay, 28-24, with 2:44 left in the quarter.
The defense then forced successive turnovers on Tennessee’s next two drives, forcing another fumble (caused by Antwaan Peek on his sack of McNair, recovered by Kailee Wong) and an interception from Marlon McCree.
McCree’s pick led to the icing on the cake, Davis rumbling untouched two plays later from 41 yards out to cap the scoring, 31-21. He would finish with 129 yards rushing and 52 more receiving.
Carr recovered nicely from his early turnover, completing 10-of-13 passes in the second half, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. At one point, he hit nine in a row, including the two scores to help bring the Texans back. Overall, he finished 21/30 for 201 yards.
David Carr’s Second Half At one point, Carr completed nine passes in a row, including two touchdowns, to help bring the Texans’ back in the second half. He hit seven different teammates, spreading the ball to all four receivers, his tight ends and the backs. Not only was he highly efficient, he moved the chains. Houston faced only five third downs in the half, and only one – a 3rd-and-13 courtesy of a Chester Pitts holding penalty – was longer than 7 yards.
The Wall of Turnovers On three consecutive Tennessee possessions, the Texans forced three turnovers, leading to 14 points. Houston is now 4-2 when the defense forces two or more turnovers in a game.
Nice Spread Seven different Texans caught passes. Three runners totaled 10 or more yards. And four different teammates scored touchdowns. If defenses are intent on stopping Andre Johnson, it was nice to see guys like Billy Miller and Jonathan Wells contributing to the cause.
The Tale of Two Halves The Texans continue to bury themselves with sluggish first halves. Sunday, they fell behind 14 points before most people had located their seats and failed to generate much offense to help offset Tennessee’s explosion. If the Texans could ever learn to put together a full game that even remotely resembles some of the second half performances they’ve had this year… well, they wouldn’t be 5-6.
Brown Out Kicker Kris Brown has now missed four of his last seven field goal attempts and three have come inside 50 yards. Sunday’s block was the first of the year, but for a team that too often plays for the field goal…
Holding on By a Thread Steve McNair’s far from his MVP form of a year ago. His three turnovers Sunday were costly because otherwise, he played well, completing 74% of his 35 passes for 221 yards and three early scores. He also rushed for 26 yards, helping Tennessee convert 8 of 13 first downs. Fortunately, the Texans were opportunistic, but he and the Titan offense continued to expose a defense that’s been torched often of late.
Leading 21-17 with 4:43 left in the third quarter, Tennessee faced a third-and-1 from their own 26. QB Steve McNair kept the snap and tried to sneak in behind his right guard.
But the Texans’ lined not only stuffed him, Gary Walker knocked the ball loose. DeShon Polk jumped on the fumble and four plays later, David Carr hit Andre Johnson for the go-ahead touchdown from 11 yards out.
Week 11 Andre Johnson secures the go-ahead touchdown Sunday. Final Score Houston Texans 31 Tennessee Titans 21 Lookin’ Good
Not only did Davis top the century mark, he broke off runs of 27 and 41 yards. Prior to his outbursts, Carr – the quarterback – held the team lead in that category. Nice to see Domanick making plays that can break open games.
Oh, my eyes!
It was better, but on a day when the Texans played well across the board, it was probably the weakest link. Carr was sacked three times and flushed from the pocket several others. He needs time to make his reads and hurt teams for double-teaming Johnson.
2004 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.14 Dallas 18-0 08.21 at Pittsburgh 3-38 08.27 at Denver 17-31 09.02 Tampa Bay 9-17 Regular Season 09.12 San Diego 20-27 09.19 at Detroit 16-28 09.26 at Kansas City 24-21 10.03 Oakland 30-17 10.10 Minnesota 28-34 10.17 at Tennessee 20-10 10.24 BYE — 10.31 Jacksonville 20-6 11.07 at Denver 13-31 11.14 at Indianapolis 14-49 11.21 Green Bay 13-16 11.28 Tennessee 31-21 12.05 at New York Jets 7-29 12.12 Indianapolis 14-23 12.19 at Chicago 24-5 12.26 at Jacksonville 21-0 01.02 Cleveland 14-22 Overall Record 7-9