Titans trying to stop Texans from reaching milestones

Updated: October 11, 2003, 1:14 AM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Houston Texans have been building their franchise carefully from Day 1.

Now, in only their second season in the NFL, they can take several giant steps in that process.

Beat Tennessee, aka the former Houston Oilers, and their replacements can celebrate the first two-game winning streak in their short history. The Texans would be over .500 for the first time other than opening day. And they would move into second place in the AFC South.

The Titans want no part of that scenario.

The defending AFC South champs already trail Indianapolis by two games in the division, and Titans coach Jeff Fisher isn't worried about anyone taking the Texans lightly Sunday.

"We won't let that happen," he said. "Our goal right now is to be 4-2 and do whatever it takes to get ready to win against this team, and it is a challenge. This is a huge challenge for us. This is a physical team."

Fisher isn't being merely polite. The Titans learned just how pesky the Texans can be, winning their first two games by scores of 17-10 and 13-3 in 2002.

"They were a battle last year," Titans safety Tank Williams said.

The Texans (2-2) are much improved with the addition of rookie receiver Andre Johnson, the third pick overall in the draft, and an offensive line that gives David Carr time to throw. They haven't allowed anyone to rush for 100 yards this season despite facing Ricky Williams, Deuce McAllister, Priest Holmes and Fred Taylor.

They come into Nashville having had a bye week to heal and enjoying their last-second 24-20 victory over Jacksonville in which coach Dom Capers let Carr dive for the winning touchdown.

"Anytime you can get a win, it's a huge boost in confidence," Texans defensive tackle Gary Walker said. "We're going up there with attitude to win the football game, not to just play and be competitive."

Titans safety Lance Schulters thinks the Texans want much more.

"They're probably thinking playoffs. They're just playing it down, saying .500. I think they're thinking playoffs. They won some close games. They went for it on fourth-and-goal. People don't do that in the NFL. They go for the win," Schulters said.

"They've got a lot of confidence. But if they can't run the ball, they can't win."

Running hasn't been easy for Houston. Capers still lists Stacey Mack as his starter, but rookies Domanick Davis and Tony Hollings have been picking up some carries. The Texans rank 18th in the NFL, averaging 104.8 yards rushing per game.

Stopping the run will be the top priority for the Titans after allowing a season-high 161 yards rushing in last week's 38-30 loss at New England.

"The Titans really didn't look too good," Mack said. "It does inspire you as an offensive unit when you know you can go out there and move the ball and put points up."

The Titans might be helped by the return of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who has been out since partially dislocating his left elbow on Sept. 14. Linebacker Peter Sirmon also might try to play with two broken bones in his lower back.

But Tennessee will be without cornerback Samari Rolle, who is out from three to six weeks with a dislocated left elbow. Tony Beckham likely will start in his place.

The Texans also are hurting in the secondary. Pro Bowl cornerback Aaron Glenn, who strained a groin muscle last week, may not be able to play and would be replaced by Kenny Wright, who had two interceptions against the Jaguars.

The Titans would like to find their own running game, which is among the worst in the NFL. They have been riding quarterback Steve McNair much more than they want.

But they also must take advantage of their only home game in October, the lone stop in Nashville in a five-game stretch.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index