NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Here’s a look at six things that stood out for the Titans in their 24-13 win over the Texans:
Delanie Walker’s fightWalker is a relentless competitor who never gives up on a play. Case in point: On the third-and-14 late in the third quarter, the Titans designed a play to get enough yardage to get in position to kick a go-ahead field goal. Walker caught the ball and fought for every inch, and it got him to within a half-yard of the marker. The Titans picked up a first down on the next play, and Walker was rewarded with a 24-yard touchdown catch moments later. His fight is contagious.
So I’ve heard the criticism, and I saw the videos from analysts last week questioning running back DeMarco Murray’s wheels, and burst out of the backfield. Well, Murray showed me something on Sunday, and he showed something to the rest of the league – he’s not done yet. Murray averaged 6 yards a carry, and came up big on some key third downs. While Derrick Henry stole the show with his late run, Murray made a valuable impact as well.
ResiliencyI’ll admit it: After the Texans converted the 4th-and-19 late, I had a bad feeling about how Sunday’s game was going to end. But the Titans didn’t let doubt slip into their minds. Instead, cornerback LeShaun Sims rose to the occasion with a mammoth interception on the next play, and Henry then busted loose for his game-clincher. These Titans continue to find a way to win.
The Titans also continue to make things difficult on themselves. They fell down 10-0 on Sunday, a week after falling behind 16-6 to the Colts. The Titans managed to find a way to come back and win both games, but life would be so much easier if the team could do something about its slow starts. An early fumble and a missed scoring chance early didn’t help on Sunday. Through the first 12 games, the Titans have been outscored 59-49 in the first quarter this season, and 137-113 in the first half.
Quiet ClowneyTexans pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney came into Sunday’s game on a roll, with six sacks and 11 tackles for a loss in the previous five games. He had nine sacks heading in. But the Titans offensive line managed to quiet Clowney throughout. In the official game book, Clowney was credited with three tackles and no quarterback hits, or sacks. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota had plenty of time to work without being under pressure.
I had a flashback of the Titans-Rams game in 1999 on Sunday, when the Texans were called for three false starts in a row. I remember then-Rams tackle Fred Miller having a tough day while zoning in on Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse while dealing with the crowd. Walker, for one, said he got “goose bumps” when he heard the Nissan Stadium crowd get jacked up in the end. Coach Mike Mularkey said the stadium was as loud as he’d ever heard it. The Titans are 9-1 in their last 10 home games, partly because the roar has been restored in the building.