The Titans' offense struggled on third down because it was in third-and-long a lot. And it was in third-and-long a lot because of plays like Cushing’s four tackles for a loss.
Houston made the Titans one-dimensional by completely taking away Chris Johnson. The Tennessee running back had five touches in the first half, and Cushing was in on a tackle for a loss on three of them, including a drop of Johnson for a 1-yard loss on a third-and-2 pass.
Cushing missed the first four games of the season while serving a suspension for a violation of the league’s policy against performance enhancers. He’s not been nearly as effective since his return as he was when he won defensive rookie of the year in 2009, and a brief move to full-time middle linebacker after DeMeco Ryans was lost for the season didn’t really work.
This was his best game of the season.
“It’s kind of getting back in the groove,” Cushing said. “I just wanted to go out and play relentless. If you play hard, good things will come.”