In an exhilarating overtime finish, the Houston Texans marched into Nashville and shocked the Tennessee Titans 19-16 on Sunday, ending the Titans’ playoff hopes in crushing fashion.
Veteran quarterback Case Keenum filled in admirably for injured rookie CJ Stroud, leading a gritty game-winning drive that ended with Kaimi Fairbairn’s walk-off 54-yard field goal. The loss eliminates Tennessee from postseason contention after reaching the AFC Championship last season.
Keenum Steps Up, Defense Clamps Down for Gutsy Texans Win
With playoff-hopeful Tennessee heavily favored at home, few expected the 4-9 Texans to push the 7-6 Titans to the brink. But Keenum and Houston’s maligned defense had other plans.
|Total Yards: 324
|Total Yards: 187
|Passing Yards: 155
|Passing Yards: 121
|Rushing Yards: 169
|Rushing Yards: 66
Keenum consistently found holes in Tennessee’s secondary, throwing for 155 yards and a touchdown while finishing with a 92.5 passer rating. Rookie Dameon Pierce gashed the Titans run defense for 103 yards on 26 tough carries.
But the difference was Houston’s impressive defense, which held NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry to just 38 yards while forcing two interceptions of Titans QB Will Levis. The Texans won time of possession 36:43 to 28:22.
Fairbairn’s Overtime Boot Sends Nissan Stadium into Stunned Silence
After both teams exchanged field goals in the final minutes of regulation, the game went to overtime knotted at 16-16. Houston won the coin toss and methodically moved into range for Fairbairn, whose perfect kick from 54 yards silenced the packed Nissan Stadium crowd.
“Our guys didn’t blink,” said Texans coach DeMeco Ryans after the emotional win. “I’m so proud of this team.”
A despondent Mike Vrabel had no answers for Tennessee’s shocking collapse with a playoff berth on the line. Star back Derrick Henry took the blame on his shoulders after the nightmarish showing.
Crushing Elimination Adds More Misery for Reeling Titans
The loss cements an utterly disastrous December slide for the shellshocked Titans after sitting atop the AFC just a month ago. Losers of six straight, Tennessee now watches the playoffs from home as their season ends with a loud thud.
Sunday’s defeat marks a new low for Vrabel’s group, which managed just 121 net passing yards against the NFL’s 30th-ranked pass defense. Questions will persist about Tennessee’s futures at QB and offensive coordinator heading into a long offseason.
The Titans still have the 49ers and Jaguars remaining as they play out the string. But the team’s attention now turns to a pivotal evaluation period after their shocking collapse. Significant changes could be coming in Nashville.
Texans Building Towards Brighter Future Behind Young Core
While Tennessee’s future holds difficult questions, Houston appears headed in the right direction behind coach of the year candidate DeMeco Ryans and Offensive Rookie of the Year-favorite CJ Stroud.
Despite Stroud’s absence Sunday, the Texans flaunted impressive fight and their emerging foundation of youthful talent. Rookies Dameon Pierce, Jalen Pitre, Derek Stingley Jr., and Christian Harris all made key plays in the comeback road victory.
At 5-9, rebuilding Houston has already exceeded expectations in 2022. With abundant cap space and a potential franchise QB, Texans fans have reason for optimism even after Sunday’s emotionally draining win.
“That was electric,” said Kaimi Fairbairn about his overtime field goal. Judging by the jubilant Houston locker room, it’s safe to say this young team is building something special.
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