The Tennessee Titans kept their long-shot playoff hopes alive by beating the Houston Texans 31-17 on Sunday.
Kerry Collins threw for two touchdowns and Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer each ran for a score to help the Titans snap their six-game losing streak. It was Tennessee's first win since beating the Eagles 37-19 on Oct. 24. Johnson finished with 130 yards rushing, his NFL-high eighth 100-yard game this season.
However, the Titans still need to win out and get help from other teams in order for them to make the playoffs -- they are eliminated from the wild-card spot, so they would have to jump over both Indianapolis and Jacksonville (both 8-6) to make the postseason.
Meanwhile, since starting 4-2, Houston has fallen apart. The Texans have just one win in their past eight games and that, ironically, was a victory over Tennessee. But there was no repeat of that on this day, which belonged to the Titans.
Some thoughts on this game:
• Tennessee had the game well in hand after Javon Ringer's seven-yard touchdown run put the Titans in front 31-10 with 28 seconds left in the third quarter. Johnson set the score up with a dazzling 42-yard run. Houston added a touchdown on Matt Schaub's scoring pass to Kevin Walter covering four yards but it wasn't nearly enough.
• There was no repeat of the fight between Tennessee's Cortland Finnegan and Houston's Andre Johnson that marred the teams' first meeting, a 20-0 Texans' victory on Nov. 28. But Johnson did beat Finnegan in a manner of speaking, getting by the Titans' defensive back for his 50th career touchdown reception. Johnson's 12-yard scoring catch pulled the Texans to within 24-10 in the third quarter.
• Midway through the first quarter, Texans running back Arian Foster, who came into the game with an NF- leading 1,330 yards rushing, had gained five yards on six carries. Houston had just one first down in the first quarter, going three-and-out on their first two possessions. They only had four yards rushing in the first half as a team, the lowest first-half total in team history. Foster finished with 15 yards on 11 carries.
• Houston trailed 21-0 before putting points on the board on Neil Rackers' 37-yard field goal with 5:50 left in the second quarter. Schaub moved the Texans to the 19-yard line of Tennessee, but then threw three consecutive incompletions.
• Schaub threw into double coverage trying to get the ball to Johnson and was intercepted by Alterraun Verner, leading to a field goal by Rob Bironas with no time remaining in the second quarter. It was the 18th consecutive made field goal by Bironas.
• Its too bad for the Titans that they didn't have some of this offense during their six-game losing streak. The Titans jumped out to a 14-0 lead on Collins' 1-yard touchdown pass to Justin Gage, who ran the under the ball for the catch on a well-executed fade pattern that beat safety Glover Quinn.
• Tennessee's second touchdown of the first quarter was set up by Kenny Britt's 59-yard catch off a deflection. The two touchdown passes were the most Collins has had in his career in the opening quarter. He entered the game needing needing 331 yards passing to become only the 12th quarterback in NFL history to have 40,000 career passing yards.
• Titans coach Jeff Fisher is coaching like he has nothing to lose. On the Titans' opening possession, he decided to go for it with Tennessee facing a 4th-and-8 at the Texans' 42-yard line. Collins responded by coolly throwing downfield to Damien Williams for a 39-yard gain to the Texans' 3-yard line. From there, Collins connected with Nate Washington and the Titans were off to a great start, taking a 7-0 lead.
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