Titans stop Texans; Houston gets No. 1 pick

Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It started with Super Bowl dreams and ended with the NFL's worst record.
The Houston Texans are now on the clock after absorbing their 14th straight loss Sunday, committing four turnovers that led to a 16-10 win for the Tennessee Titans in both teams' regular-season finale at LP Field.
After winning the AFC South in 2011 and 2012, Houston (2-14) owns the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Texans opened the year with back-to-back comeback victories against San Diego and Tennessee, but didn't win a game after that. Coach Gary Kubiak was fired Dec. 6 when the losing streak reached 11.
Texans management is expected to name a new coach as early as Tuesday. Published reports suggest their target is Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, a former assistant coach with the New England Patriots, but Texans owner Bob McNair is moving forward with multiple interviews with other candidates this week, a source told The Sports Xchange on Saturday night.
Interim coach Wade Phillips, who went 0-3 after Kubiak's dismissal, said it was one of his toughest years in coaching.
"I still believe the guys played hard," he said. "I didn't ask them to win every game. I asked them to play hard and I thought they did that. We made too many turnovers."
Quarterback Matt Schaub tossed two interceptions and lost a fumble in the second half, while running back Jonathan Grimes lost a fumble after an 11-yard reception in the second quarter, denying Houston a chance to build on a 7-3 lead.
Grimes' first NFL touchdown, a 3-yard run with 9:37 left in the first quarter, gave the Texans a quick 7-0 lead. But it was their last points until placekicker Randy Bullock converted a 19-yard field goal with 2:53 remaining in the game.
Houston got the ball back on its 9 with 1:06 left, but Schaub threw an interception to free safety Michael Griffin on first down to seal the Titans' first home win since Sept. 29 against the New York Jets.
"The guys focused in on our task of playing better and getting two wins to end the season," Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said.
Munchak is hoping to be back for a fourth season after the Titans won their last two games to finish 7-9, giving him a 22-26 record since being hired before the 2011 season. He will make his case to the team's new president, Tommy Smith, soon.
"There's a lot of things we're going to talk about," Munchak said. "We would have liked to have been better this year. We have to figure out how we can get better and then go from there."
Running back Chris Johnson, who might have also been playing his last home game, rushed for 127 yards and the go-ahead touchdown on 27 carries. Johnson's 11-yard run with 5:39 left in the third quarter gave Tennessee a 13-7 lead.
It was just the second 100-yard game this year for Johnson, who could be released in the offseason unless he agrees to take a pay cut from his $8 million salary for 2014. He had a $10 million base salary this season, all but $1 million guaranteed.
"I gave some thought to it as I was running out of the tunnel," Johnson said of the circumstances. "But you can't let it affect how you play. It felt good to run the ball well, but it was more important to get the win."
Placekicker Rob Bironas added field goals of 42, 55 and 37 yards for the Titans. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 15 of 24 for 166 yards and an interception.
Schaub was 22 of 34 for 229 yards and a rating of 59.6 to cap a lost season for him and his franchise.
"Matt's going to play somewhere," Phillips said of his quarterback's future. "If not here, I think he'll play somewhere. He's certainly a talented player."
NOTES: Tennessee DT Jurrell Casey (knee) and RT David Stewart (shoulder) were among the team's inactives for the season finale. ... LB Joe Mays and QB Case Keenum were inactive for Houston. ... RB Chris Johnson's 23-yard run late in the first half put him over 1,000 yards, the sixth straight season he has been over 1,000. Only five other backs in NFL history have gone over 1,000 in the first six seasons of their career.

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