By Elwyn Henderson
The Houston Texans came into their game at NRG Stadium Sunday against the Tennessee Titans knowing they HAD to win the game and then win their final regular season game next week at Indianapolis against the Colts in order to be guaranteed a trip to the postseason. The took care of business on the first part of that formula, defeating the Titans 26-3. They are now tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Colts for the AFC South Division with the one regular season game left, as those two teams also won on Sunday. Jacksonville travels to Nashville to take on the Titans in their final game and they will be expected to tie up the Division title. So now Houston is win and in.
The Titans took the opening kickoff and gained just 4 yards in 5 plays before punting away. The Texans began their first possession at their 32 and moved 58 yards in 6:47 over 13 plays resulting in a Ka’Imi Fairbairn 28-yard field goal with 7:17 left in the first quarter and the home team took an early 3-0 lead.
On their next possession the Titans took 4:37 off the clock and moved 27 yards before the Houston defense forced another punt that set the Texans up at their 11.
CJ Stroud, returning from a 2-game absence due to a concussion looked sharp as a tack on the drive, moving the team the 89 yards into the end zone in 14 plays that covered 7:30 for a TD with 10:50 remaining in the first half. The score came on a 12-yard TD pass to Brevin Jordan. Fairbairn was true on the PAT kick and Houston led 10-0.
Houston scored again just 8 seconds later when the Titans fumbled the ball away after a Jerry Hughes hit, and Sheldon Rankins grabbed the loose pigskin and ran into the end zone from 13 yards out with 13:42 left in the half. Fairbairn was true on the extra point once again and the Houston lead advanced to 17-0.
Houston added a Fairbairn 38-yard field goal with 4:17 left in the half, moving the Texans lead to 20-0.
The Titans finally got on the scoreboard on the last play of the first half when Nick Folk capped off a 6-play, 43-yard drive that consumed the final 1:11 of the half with a 53-yard field goal, making the score 20-3.
The Texans took the second half kickoff and moved 71 yards in 13 plays over 5:25 and the drive ended with a Fairbairn 27-yard field goal with 9:35 left in the third quarter, advancing the Houston lead to 23-3.
Tennessee turned the ball over on downs and Houston moved 37 yards on their next possession over 11 plays, but they were forced to punt the ball away.
On their ensuing possession, Ryan Tannehill moved the Titans 25 yards in 6 plays before turning the ball over on downs for the second time in as many possessions.
Stroud and the offense could only gain 2 yards in 3 plays and 2:03, but Fairbairn nailed a 51-yard field goal with 4:35 left in the game. That pushed the lead to 26-3.
The teams exchanged punts before the Titans held onto the ball for the final 1:50 of the game, making the final score 26-3 in favor of Houston. Now they just need to win on the road in Week 18 to punch their ticket to the 2023 playoffs.