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Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Further review: Williams' stop of CJ

By Paul Kuharsky

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

The situation: The Texans had just driven to a touchdown that made it 31-31 near the end of the third quarter. After a Kerry Collins-to-Nate Washington 9-yard pass the Titans faced a third-and-1 at their 43-yard line.

Tennessee lined up with two tight ends to the left of left tackle Michael Roos, with fullback Ahmard Hall and Chris Johnson in an I formation and with receiver Justin Gage split right.

Houston keeps base people on the field, with cornerback Fred Bennett looking to set contain on the side of the field with no receiver. Strongside linebacker Brian Cushing lined up near right end Antonio Smith with DeMeco Ryans at middle linebacker, Zac Diles on the weakside and safety Jon Busing acting as an additional linebacker to Diles left.

Here’s what I saw unfold after the snap:

Collins takes the snap and turns to his right, but doesn’t sell a fake to Hall, who heads into the middle of the line, very well. Collins flicks the ball to Johnson heading right out of the backfield and looking to take it wide.

Right tackle David Stewart lunges left with a big shuffle and gets his left hand on the left shoulder of defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, giving him a shove. But by the time Stewart comes back to Mario Williams, Williams is moving away tracking Johnson, having bitten on nothing.

Gage starts out against cornerback Dunta Robinson, who manages to turn the receiver around and influence Johnson’s decision not to try to get all the way to the edge.

Running east to west, Williams almost reaches the hashmarks in sync with Johnson, five yards ahead of him. Williams closes on Johnson, who puts on the brakes thinking his best chance at the yard is to cut up inside. As Williams grabs a leg and pulls him down, Busing arrives to ensure Johnson can’t lunge forward to gain the first down.

Result: In a game where the Texans got shredded on the ground, Williams’ huge play held Johnson to no gain, forcing a punt. Tennessee was averaging 12.5 yards a carry to that point. The Titans gained 27 yards on nine runs from there (average: 3 yards).

Ultimate outcome: The Titans got three more first downs in the game, advancing no further than the Houston 33, where they passed on a 50- or 51-yard field goal try and turned the ball over on downs. The Texans got a 23-yard Kris Brown field goal that provided the winning margin.