The running game was also able to get back on track yesterday rushing for 153 yards on 29 carries. We said before the Broncos game, the Bengals game and this game that the Titans should have success on the ground. Yesterday was the first time they were able to take advantage of the match-up. LenDale White was having a solid game before he had to leave with a dislocated finger. He carried 12 times for 60 yards. Chris Brown came in when White had to leave and rushed for 46 yards on 11 carries. The Titans averaged 5.3 yards per carry yesterday. That is they type of number they are going to need to put up to have success.
The receivers caught the passes they needed to yesterday. That was really good to see. The only drop of the day came from Justin Gage, and he gets a pass because of how well he has played this season. Roydell Williams and Gage each had 5 catches and a touchdown. Bo Scaife added 4 catches of his own. It all came together in the passing game for the first time all season yesterday. The Titans need to build on this if they are going to make a playoff run.
The defense wasn't dominant yesterday, but they played well enough to get the win. The return of Albert Haynesworth seemed to re-energize the front 4 that had been MIA since his injury. Antwan Odom and Tony Brown each had a sack yesterday. Odom's sack knocked Matt Schaub out of the game. Schaub was punished in each of his meetings with the Titans this season. The Titans were only able to get 2 sacks, but they were in the Texans backfield all day long.
The defense still had some problems against the run. Ron Dayne had 86 yards on 18 carries. Giving up 4.8 yards per carry to "The Dayne Train" is not exactly good, but it was good enough to get the Titans a win. That is really all that matters, but Jim Schwartz and company are going to need to figure out where the breakdowns are coming this week because if they have those breakdowns next week LaDainian Tomlinson he will do a lot more damage than that.
Luckily the Titans were able to keep Sage Rosenfels from becoming Dan Marion yesterday. He was 17 of 30 for 185 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. That interception was by Michael Griffin, the first of his career. What about the play of Cortland Finnegan yesterday? He did a great job every time he was locked up on Andre Johnson. Johnson had a good day with 9 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, but most of his damage came when he was matched-up against Nick Harper. The play of Finnegan has been the biggest surprise of this season.
Finnegan also stepped up big on special teams yesterday. Brandon Jones came into the game as the punt returner, but he had to leave the game in the first quarter with a groin injury. The Titans decided to use the recently signed Chris Barclay to return punts in Jones's absence. After Barclay lost a fumble on a punt that was luckily negated by a penalty, the Titans put Finnegan back there to return punts. Finnegan handled all of his chances without incident. The Titans used Griffin on the last kickoff return instead of Barclay. Griffin hadn't been handling kick returns since he was made the starting safety. I am not sure how much longer Barclay will be on the roster.
This was a game the Titans had to win to have a shot at the playoffs. It was good to see them play with a sense of urgency that had been missing for the last few weeks. They should be able to use the momentum from this win to finish strong.
Give me your thoughts on yesterday's game and the Titans' playoff hopes.