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A Wild One: Titans beat Texans, 24-13

Posted Dec 3, 2017

Titans cornerback LeShaun Sims intercepted a pass in the end zone in the final moments, and running back Derrick Henry provided the clincher with a long touchdown run as the Titans beat the Houston Texans, 24-13.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the game tied, and the Titans facing a third-and-14 from the Houston 40 late in the third quarter, the play called in the huddle was designed to put the team in field goal range.

After catching a short pass from quarterback Marcus Mariota, tight end Delanie Walker had something else in mind. He fought for the sticks, and got close enough to convince coaches to go for it on 4th and one.

The Titans got the first down on the next play, before a go-ahead score from Walker on the ensuing play. The Titans then made some big plays at the end to win a wild one, 24-13 over the Texans, before a raucous crowd at Nissan Stadium.

In Walker’s mind, his fight was a great example of what these 2017 Titans are all about.

“I love this team,” Walker said. “There is something special about this team. The guys in this locker room have fight. They never give up. And I can’t ask for anything more than that. We find a way to win games, and that makes me happy.

“I experienced some bad years with this team, some years where when things got tough, we gave up. This year, nobody is giving up. We expect to win, even when things don’t look good.”

The Titans won a wild one on Sunday against the Texans.

And boy, did they need it.

Titans cornerback LeShaun Sims intercepted a pass in the end zone in the final moments, and running back Derrick Henry provided the clincher with an electrifying 75-yard touchdown run.

The Titans improved to 8-4 with the win, and they remain tied atop the AFC South with the Jaguars, who beat the Colts on Sunday. The Titans are now 4-1 vs. the AFC South this season, and 9-1 in their last 10 home games.

“Obviously everyone would love to have games where you blow teams out, and it doesn’t come down to the fourth quarter,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “But this is the NFL, and it’s not easy.

“But we keep finding ways to win, regardless of the situation. We just keep getting the job done.”

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 15-of-23 passes for 150 yards, and he ran for a touchdown.

After falling behind 10-0, the Titans rallied for 17 straight points to take the lead, and then got some big plays at the end.

But it was a nerve-wracking finish. The Titans took the lead 17-10 on the 24-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Walker with just three seconds left in the third quarter.

Then the Texans cut the lead to 17-13 on a 42-yard field goal by kicker Ka’imi Fairburn with 4:37 left. They were driving late when Sims made his interception in the end zone. Sims was in the game in place of starting cornerback Logan Ryan, who was sidelined with a concussion. Sims was in charge of defending DeAndre Hopkins on the game’s biggest play, and he came away with the interception.

“He’s a tough cover, very physical,” Sims said of Hopkins. “You pretty much have to fight fire with fire. It feels great to make a play like this when it counted.”

When the Titans got the ball back, Henry busted loose for a long touchdown.

“I was thinking, ‘Just get the first down’ at first,” Henry said. “When I saw the open space, I turned those jets on and tried to get into the end zone.”

Henry led the Titans with 11 carries for 109 yards. Running back DeMarco Murray had 11 carries for 66 yards in the first half. It was part of a 198-yard rushing performance by the Titans, who also got a nine-yard touchdown run from Mariota.

“It feels good,” Mariota said when asked about the team being 8-4. “It feels really good but it’s not satisfying. That’s just the start. Looking around the locker room with these guys, I think everyone feels the same way. In order to get where we want to go, we’ve got to continue to put these together. 8-4 is not going to cut it. We’re looking forward to next week and hopefully, we can continue to win these games.”

The Texans took a 3-0 lead on a 23-yard field goal by Fairbairn, which followed a fumble on a punt return by Titans return man Adoree’ Jackson.

Following a missed 40-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop, the Texans then took a 10-0 lead on a four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Savage to tight end Stephen Anderson.

But the Titans rallied back.

The Titans cut the lead to 10-7 on Mariota’s run, which capped a 10-play, 75 yard drive. Henry put the Titans inside the 10 on a 24-yard run, and the drive was kept alive on a 13-yard pass from Mariota to Murray on third-and-7 from the Houston 46.

On Mariota’s touchdown, he faked the ball to Henry, and then sprinted to left corner of the end zone. He picked up a key block from tight end Jonnu Smith at the goalline.

The Titans tied the game 10-10 at halftime on a 43-yard field goal by Succop, which capped a four-play, 37-yard drive with three seconds before halftime.

Then came the pressure-packed ending.

The Titans travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals next Sunday.

“The ball, since I’ve been here, hasn’t always bounced our way,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “It’s bounced our way this year. You need that to win football games.

“I thought it was a great win for this team. A lot of ups and downs in that one, but I like the way our guys kept on playing and didn’t let anything affect them as in past games, getting down 10 early. I thought the crowd had a big part in our win, I really do. That’s the loudest I’ve heard it.”