Rapid Reaction: Titans 23, Texans 22
January, 1, 2012
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
HOUSTON -- Thoughts on the Titans' 23-22 win over the Texans at Reliant Stadium:
What it means: The Titans finish the regular season at 9-7 and will be the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs if three 4 p.m. ET games fall right for them. They need the Bengals to lose and the Raiders and Broncos to win. The Texans finish the regular season on a three-game losing streak and find out later if they will host Cincinnati, Oakland or Tennessee next week in the first playoff game in franchise history.
What I liked, Texans: The decision to go for two with 14 seconds left in regulation. Absolutely the right thing to do, even after a false start penalty pushed them back. The Texans did not need the extra work of overtime with nothing at risk and nothing to be gained based on the game result. Thomas Austin’s shotgun snap over Jake Delhomme’s head was unfortunate for Houston, but didn’t mean much in the big picture. The drive to the touchdown that put them in position to win or lose on the conversion was a big one.
What I liked, Titans: They found a way, thanks largely to Nate Washington’s work. He caught a 55-yard pass in the third quarter to set up a go-ahead field goal and a 23-yard touchdown that provided the winning margin. On the second catch, Matt Hasselbeck threw a high ball as he was hit that took a long time to come down. But Washington ran past Quintin Demps and outfought Brandon Harris for the ball. The good news for Houston: Neither of those guys is part of the base defense and Johnathan Joseph would have been involved if he were playing.
What the Texans can feel good about: Second- and third-tier options were productive, from fullback James Casey to receiver Bryant Johnson to linebackers Bryan Braman and Mister Alexander.
What’s next: The Texans await results of the 4 p.m. games to learn who they’ll host next weekend. It’ll be Cincinnati if the Bengals beat the Ravens. It could also be the Raiders or Titans. The Titans will spend their plane ride back to Nashville tracking the three games they need to break right and hoping for a celebration after they get home.