Following a wild rally Monday evening in San Diego, the Houston Texans look to keep their momentum going Sunday when they host to the Tennessee Titans (noon Central Time) in an AFC South meeting.
Down 28-7 in their season opener against the Chargers, the Titans ran off 24 straight points to stun the home team, leaving many Texans fans happy, but concerned at the same time.
For a defense that features the likes of defensive end J.J. Watt and inside linebacker Brian Cushing, giving up 28 points to a team under a new head coach is not exactly the way one wants to begin a season. Nonetheless, the Texans no doubt were happy to leave Southern California with the victory before turning their attention toward division rival Tennessee.
Titans Open Strong on the Road
Meanwhile, the Titans were making a little news of their own, going to always tough Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and leaving with a hard-fought 16-9 win over the Steelers.
With a number of question marks coming into the season, mainly quarterback Jake Locker and running back Chris Johnson, the Titans certainly kicked off the 2013 season in fine fashion.
Locker, who is planted in Nashville as the starting quarterback, finished the win over Pittsburgh 11-of-20 passing for 125 yards. While those numbers will certainly not blow away any fantasy football players, he managed to avoid any turnovers. A season ago, Locker threw for just 10 TDs in 11 games, with 11 interceptions and 2,175 yards. Even though many quarterbacks do not like the term “game manager” levied their way, Locker is essentially that when all is said and done.
Johnson finished his day with 70 yards on 25 carries and no fumbles, while teammate Jackie Battle scored Tennessee’s lone rushing TD.
Johnson, who is third all-time in team rushing (including when the franchise was in Houston as the Oilers) to Eddie George and Earl Campbell, ran for a respectable 1,243 yards a season ago, but also finished with a career-high four fumbles. If Johnson can do a better job of holding onto the ball this season, plus put up near or around 100 yards a game rushing, it will take some of the pressure off of Locker to create big plays.
Tennessee Relies on ‘D’ to Win
On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Zach Brown (20th pick of the 2012 second round) accounted for eight solo tackles to lead the Titans, who held the Steelers to 195 total yards of offense (two turnovers).
Given that Tennessee is not going to regularly produce a bunch of points each game, strong defensive efforts such as this one in the opener will prove critical if the Titans are to challenge either Houston or Indianapolis for the division crown.
While the Texans enter Sunday’s game as a 9-point favorite, don’t be surprised if they find themselves in a low-scoring defensive struggle.
Tennessee will undoubtedly look to play ball control and keep Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson on the sidelines as much as possible.
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Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.