HOUSTON (AP)—David Carr watched helplessly from the sideline last week while Brett Favre methodically moved the Green Bay Packers down the field in the final minute to snatch away a victory from the Houston Texans.
Given a chance of his own Sunday, Carr put together a passable imitation of his boyhood idol.
Carr threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns and Domanick Davis rushed for a season-high 129 yards and a score to help the Houston Texans rally from an 18-point deficit in a 31-21 win over the Tennessee Titans.
“The game couldn’t have started any tougher for us,” Texans coach Dom Capers said. “The team learned from the tough defeat last week. You have to hang in there and battle.”
After allowing Favre and the Green Bay Packers to come back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a win last week, Carr and the Texans rallied from the largest deficit in franchise history for a victory.
“I just said it couldn’t get any worse,” Carr said. “We just had to go out and keep believing in ourselves. That’s what we did, and it worked out for us.”
The Texans (5-6) ended a three-game losing streak and, perhaps most importantly to their fans, swept the season series from the team they replaced in Houston. Titans owner Bud Adams, who moved the Houston Oilers to Tennessee in 1996, took in the defeat from a luxury suite in the stadium Houston wouldn’t build for him.
Houston also tied its win total from last season in its 11th game, a clear improvement for the third-year team.
The Titans (4-7) dropped into last place in the AFC South, likely ending their slim playoff hopes much earlier than expected. Tennessee has missed the playoffs only once in the previous five seasons.
“These are uncharted waters,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “We haven’t been here before.”
Tennessee wasted a brilliant first-half performance from Steve McNair.
McNair completed his first seven passes for 80 yards, including a couple of touchdown throws to Erron Kinney to give Tennessee a 14-0 lead. He added another touchdown pass to Derrick Mason early in the second quarter, increasing the Titans’ lead to 21-3.
Carr had an interception on his first pass attempt of the game, throwing right to Titans safety Scott McGarrahan, drawing a chorus of boos from the normally patient Houston crowd.
Those boos got even louder when Kris Brown’s 41-yard field goal attempt was blocked at the end of the first half.
“I couldn’t blame them,” Davis said of the jeering fans. “But we just had to hold our ground and keep fighting. We kept with the game plan and never got scared.”
Did they ever. Carr had the fans on their feet thanks to his masterpiece in the third quarter.
After Houston recovered McNair’s fumbled snap on third-and-1 from the Titans 26, Carr threw his second touchdown pass of the quarter to Andre Johnson to put the Texans on top 24-21. Carr completed all nine of his pass attempts for 83 yards in the quarter.
McNair had another big mistake as the Titans attempted to rally, fumbling after Antwan Peek hit him from his blindside on third-and-10 from the Houston 13. Kailee Wong recovered the ball, snuffing out what could have been a chip-shot, game-tying field goal attempt.
The Titans still had a chance to tie the game. McNair was driving the Titans down the field with about two minutes left, but Houston came up with the key defensive stop they didn’t get against Green Bay. Texans safety Marlon McCree picked off McNair with 1:47 left, setting off a wild celebration on the Houston sideline.
“It was just my turnovers in clutch situations that hurt,” McNair said. “I totally take the blame for this loss.”
McNair finished 25-of-34 for 227 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in his second start since a bruised sternum caused him to miss most of the previous four weeks.
The 10-year veteran was so frustrated after the game that he suggested this season could be his last.
“In the offseason I’m going to take a long look at what I’m going to do,” said the 33-year-old McNair. “I just have to evaluate myself.”
Davis sealed the victory with a 41-yard touchdown run down the middle of the field, his longest rush of the year. Davis added seven reception for 52 yards.
Titans receiver Derrick Mason was critical of the battered natural grass turf at Reliant Stadium. “That’s probably the worse surface I’ve played on in the NFL,” Mason said. “That was like playing on dirt.” … Titans running back Antowain Smith, who attended college at the University of Houston, rushed for 90 yards on 21 carries in his second start for the injured Chris Brown.