The game was a shootout, but it was not fun to watch — that is, if you’re a Titans fan with high expectations.
Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson picked apart the Titans defensive secondary. Chris Johnson‘s career day was all for naught, and Kerry Collins turned the ball over twice.
Tennessee now stares at an 0-2 record as Houston earned a hard-fought win.
Story of the Game: Defensive secondary dooms Titans
Andre Johnson is arguably the NFL’s best receiver, and Schaub is more than capable of posting big passing numbers when given time to throw. I didn’t expect the Titans to shut down Houston’s pass offense, but I didn’t expect the defensive backs to be embarrassed.
I’m not an ageist, but Nick Harper looked like a 35-year old struggling to play cornerback. He committed multiple pass interference penalties and had little success covering Johnson. Cortland Finnegan didn’t look much better when matched up against the Texans’ stud receiver.
Michael Griffin was burned on a play action fake by Schaub and Johnson whizzed by him and the rest of the Titans defense for a 72-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Griffin looked out of sorts all day and appeared to be out of place on many of Houston’s long pass plays.
Johnson finished with 10 catches for 172 yards. Schaub was 25-of-39 for 357 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Other Story of the Game: Collins commits both Titans turnovers
It would not be fair to blame this loss on Collins, but he was a key factor in the loss. Collins committed a critical fumble with Tennessee down 34-31 and 1:42 left in the game.
The Titans had three possessions in the fourth quarter. On the first possession, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger called a draw play on 3rd and 4. Chris Johnson lost two yards. On fourth down, Tennessee went for it and Collins could not connect with Justin Gage (the draw play begs this question: if Titans coaches don’t trust Collins to make plays on third down in critical moments, why is he your starting quarterback?).
On the second possession, Collins failed to convert a third and two pass to Gage.
On the third possession, Collins fumbled on a scramble. The fumble was not caused by contact with a defensive player.
Did the Titans miss Albert Haynesworth?
It depends on how you look at it.
Tennessee’s defense held Steve Slaton to two yards per carry on seventeen attempts. The biggest defensive miscues were committed by the secondary.
But how many times was Matt Schaub sacked today? Zero.
In last year’s games versus the Texans, with Haynesworth, Tennessee sacked Schaub six times.
If sacking the opposing team’s quarterback and forcing interceptions is important, and I think it is, the Titans missed Haynesworth against the Texans.
Chris Johnsons career day
Early in the game, I was sure the “Story of the Game” section would be about Chris Johnson’s performance. CJ rushed for 197 yards, amassed a total of 284 total yards, and scored three touchdowns.
His 91-yard touchdown run broke a 24-24 tie, and tied the longest touchdown run in franchise history.
Rookie receivers not a factor
Kenny Britt blocked well on running plays and caught two passes, but he committed a false start in the first quarter and was rocked on a sideline tackle late in the second quarter. It appeared to me that much-ballyhooed tight end Jared Cook dropped every pass thrown to him.
Is a playoff push or an 8-8 season in Tennessee”s future?
The CBS television commentators pointed out that, since 1990, only 14 percent of teams that begin the season with an 0-2 record make the playoffs.
Tennessee was supposed to be a team with unfinished business after a 13-3 record in 2008 and an early playoff loss. Does anyone believe the 2009 Tennessee Titans can win a playoff game?
The pass defense has played poorly against Pittsburgh and Houston and is not forcing enough turnovers and sacks.
Just as Vince Young needs to start an NFL game before earning a Hall-of-Fame nomination, the Titans need to win a game before resolving unfinished business in the playoffs. After today’s loss, I wonder if the Titans will go 8-8 and if Young will be Tennessee’s starting quarterback at season’s end.
Despite the long odds, it’s still early in the season, but Tennessee has made its road to the playoffs very difficult. This team needs to find a way to contain rookie star quarterback Matt Sanchez and get a much-needed win against the upstart New York Jets.