Lamar Miller rushed for 162 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown run, to lead the Houston Texans past the Tennessee Titans 34-17 Monday night at NRG Stadium.
After the Titans took a 10-0 lead on their first two possessions, Miller jumpstarted the listless Texans with four consecutive runs moving the ball from the Houston 39 yard line to the Titans’ 12 yard line. From there, Deshaun Watson found Demaryius Thomas for a 12-yard touchdown pass, pulling the Texans to within 3 at 10-7. Later, Watson scored a touchdown to put the Texans up 14-10.
In the second quarter, the Titans had a fourth down and one yard to go at the Texans’ 3-yard line. Luke Stocker tried a run up the middle, but Texans’ linebackers Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney stopped the play for no gain, and the Texans took over on downs.
On the very next play, Miller ran by the right guard for a 97-yard touchdown run to put the Texans up 21-10.
“I give all the credit to the offensive line. They did a great job at giving me, (Alfred) Blue and Deshaun (Watson) opportunities to run the ball. I just took advantage of the opportunity,” Miller said.
The first half ended with a Ka’imi Fairbairn 43-yard field goal to make the score 24-10.
In the third quarter, Fairbairn added a 47-yard field goal, and the Titan’s Marcus Mariota threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis to make the score 27-17 at the end of three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Thomas caught his second touchdown pass of the game, a 10-yard pass from Watson, to make the final score 34-17.
“Thomas stayed on top of his game, studied his game plan, and did what the coaching staff asked him to do. He executed the game plan and each route. I gave him a chance, and he made sure that he capitalized on those opportunities,” Watson said.
For the Titans, Mariota had a career night completing 22 of 23 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns. But the Texans’ defense sacked him six times for 43 yards of loss, and after the first six minutes of the game, the Titans never really threatened to win the game.
The Titans were 4 of 12 on third down conversions for the game.
“They did a good job on third down against us. To be able to continue to sustain drives, continue to sustain momentum, we’ve got to be able to be efficient on third down. And I think there were times where they came out, we might have had a big play, but we got kind of stalled. For us if we can be the offense we want to be, we’ve got to improve in that area and continue to get in a rhythm to continue to sustain drives and score points,” Mariota said.
For the Texans, Watson was 19 of 24 for 210 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran nine times for a career high 70 yards and one touchdown.
“There’s a lot of football to be done. Nothing’s solidified, nothing is set in stone. We have a lot more football to go and we have to continue to play Texans football. Each and every week is very important. Each and every week, especially now, November, December, is a playoff game. So, we’re trying to put ourselves in a position to be where we want to be at the end of the year. We left a lot of opportunities out there on the field in all three phases, and we have to come back in tomorrow, watch the film and correct those mistakes. We still haven’t played a complete football (game) on all three phases yet. We have an opportunity to do that next week and we try to continue to improve each and every week,” Watson said.
Miller rushed 12 times for 162 yards and one touchdown, and Alfred Blue had 13 carries for 49 yards. DeAndre Hopkins had five receptions for 74 yards and Thomas had four receptions for 38 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, McKinney had 10 tackles, and J.J. Watt had nine tackles and 1.5 sacks, giving him an American Football Conference leading 11.5 sacks for the season.
“Yeah, obviously it (the game) didn’t start out the way we wanted it to, but I think the way everybody responded speaks volumes about the guys we have out there. Cov (Christian Covington) had an unbelievable night, very happy for him, the way that he played, just guys all over. I mean, again our defense is all about guys making plays. Never know where it’s going to come from, but someone’s going to make a play. Tonight, was another example,” Watt said.
Whitney Mercilus had five tackles and 1.5 sacks, and Christian Covington had four tackles and 2.5 sacks.
The Texans honored Bob McNair, their founder and owner, before the game and at halftime. McNair passed away last Friday.
“Yeah, it was a great night. I give credit to our players. We talked a lot about Bob (McNair), what he meant to the city of Houston, obviously bringing football back to the city of Houston. Just the type of man that he was. He was a very honest man. He was a very Christian man. He would tell you the truth. He’d tell you when he thought you weren’t doing well, and he would tell you when he thought you were doing real well. I think these players, even the younger guys who really didn’t have a chance to know him very well, I think everybody understood from the veteran players what Bob meant to this organization. They handled it the right way. That was a good win and a tribute to Bob McNair. We gave the game ball to Cal (McNair), because we felt like as a team that win was for Bob,” Head Coach Bill O’Brien said.
The Texans play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at NRG Stadium.