NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Maybe now the Texans won’t hear so much about the team they replaced in Houston.
David Carr threw for 266 yards and a touchdown, and Kris Brown kicked field goals of 21 and 50 yards, as the Texans beat the Titans 20-10 for their first victory over the team that left Texas for Tennessee.
“This is definitely a big game for the Houston fans,” Carr said. “I wanted to get this … for the fans as much as anybody else. Hopefully, they’re cheering back home. I know they are, and we had to get it for them.”
The Texans improved to 3-3 for the first time in the franchise’s three-season history by winning in the stadium Nashville built to lure the former Oilers away from Houston. Other giant steps from this game include victory in their first division game this season and a second straight road win.
“Since this is our third year, it seems like every time we do something, it’s the first time,” Houston coach Dom Capers said.
The Texans did it with defense, intercepting four passes and sacking Steve McNair once.
The loss dropped the Titans (2-4) into sole possession of the AFC South cellar. Worse yet, the Titans have lost three straight at home for the first time since their final season in Houston in 1996.
McNair, the NFL’s 2003 co-MVP, was angry the Titans failed to follow a 48-27 victory at Green Bay last week with a strong outing.
“We’ve got to reach back and find the old Titans, because right now we’re not a great football team,” he said.
Playing behind a patchwork offensive line missing both starting guards, McNair tried to rally the Titans and drove them to the Houston 4 in the final minutes. But Marcus Coleman intercepted McNair on fourth-and-2 with 1:42 left, and the Texans ran out the clock.
The banged-up Titans played without starting right guard Benji Olson because of a strained groin. Shad Meier, their top tight end, was in a hospital after an emergency appendectomy Sunday morning. That forced coaches to scrap all their plays using two tight ends.
“That’s no excuse,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “We’re pros. This is a professional coaching staff, and these are professional players.”
Despite a sore ankle, Carr helped the Texans play keepaway from the team that led the NFL in time of possession. They held the ball for more than 32 minutes and outgained the Titans 345-305.
“The offensive line stepped up big. I was on one wheel today. If I’d got hit at all, it would’ve been none,” Carr said.
Tennessee struggled throughout the game. Interceptions ended its first two drives, and the Titans went three and out on the third. Tennessee disintegrated after yet another dropped pass in the fourth quarter.
“It’s feeling like 2001 right now, and that was miserable,” Titans cornerback Samari Rolle said of their last losing season. “But I think we’ve got the character guys on this team who won’t let us go down like that.”
Carr, who tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney in the second quarter for a 10-7 lead, drove the Texans methodically 65 yards in nine plays on the ensuing drive. Jonathan Wells scored on a 4-yard run to put them up 20-10 with 4:42 to go, and he finished with 73 yards on 22 carries.
The Titans had just 15 yards in the first quarter. They led only once, 7-3, after McNair’s TD pass to Bennett, set up when safety Tank Williams blitzed Carr and poked the ball away for a fumble.
Wade sat out only the second game of his NFL career. He missed only one start before joining the Texans as a free agent from Miami this season. … The last time McNair was intercepted four times was Sept. 29, 2002, at Oakland during their 1-4 start. … Houston’s previous road victory over an AFC South opponent was in its inaugural season over Jacksonville.