Triumphant Return for Titans, Adams
Although it has been six years since owner Bud Adams moved the Houston Oilers to Tennessee, fans haven’t forgotten.
While tailgaters mocked Adams outside Reliant Stadium, the Titans blocked a punt and field goal and Eddie George scored the game’s only touchdown with 5:14 left as they beat the Houston Texans, 13-3, Sunday.
The Titans (11-5), already the AFC South champions, gained a first-round bye with the victory, their 10th in 11 games. The Texans (4-12) closed out their first NFL season with three consecutive losses.
Adams, blamed by most fans for moving the Oilers, visited both locker rooms after the game.
“It’s a business and we had to win this game to be the second seed in the American Football Conference,” Adams said. “Outside of that, I love the Texans.”
A record crowd of 70,694 booed the Titans as they came on the field to play in Houston for the first time since moving to Tennessee after the 1996 season. The Oilers spent the franchise’s first 37 years in Houston.
The Oilers played their last game in Houston on Dec. 15, 1996, in a 21-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in a half-filled Astrodome.
The Titans led 6-3 on Joe Nedney’s first-half field goals of 28 and 26 yards. They put together the game’s only touchdown drive that was kept alive by a 53-yard pass from Steve McNair to Drew Bennett to the Texan 18.
George scored on a four-yard run and finished the game with 102 yards in 25 carries. McNair completed eight of 22 passes for 148 yards.
“We felt like it could be a field position game we made the plays at the end of the ball game,” Titan Coach Jeff Fisher said. “Any time you win 10 of 11 games there will be some like this, and we’ll take this.”
The Titans scratched out a 6-0 halftime lead on the two field goals, although Tennessee was outgained in total yards, 159-115, and in first downs, 9-5, in the first two quarters.
McNair’s 36-yard pass to Justin McCareins helped set up Nedney’s 28-yarder for a 3-0 first-quarter lead.
Rocky Boiman gave Tennessee a first down at Houston’s 22-yard line when he blocked Chad Stanley’s punt in the second quarter, before Nedney’s 26-yarder.
In the third quarter, Texan quarterback David Carr was sacked on consecutive plays by Kevin Carter and Lance Schulters. Houston settled for Kris Brown’s 42-yard field goal.
Carr completed 21 of 40 passes for 214 yards and one interception. He was sacked three times, increasing his NFL record for times sacked to 76 for the season.