Titans’ run game to create sizable challenge for the Texans in Week 18

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  • Houston Texans
    Houston Texans
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Tennessee Titans
    Tennessee Titans
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  • Derrick Henry
    Derrick Henry
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  • Lovie Smith
    Lovie Smith
    American football player and coach
  • Adrian Peterson
    Adrian Peterson
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HOUSTON — For the second consecutive year, the Houston Texans have struggled against the run after giving up an average of 143.4 rushing yards per game. But despite their issues, there were moments throughout the 2021 campaign the Texans held their own, and one came amid Houston’s 22-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans in November.

During the Week 11 win at Nissan Stadium, the Texans held the Titans to 103 yards on the ground, with former running back Adrian Peterson leading the way with 40 yards on nine carries.

By stopping the run, the Texans put together their best defensive performance of the season after recording five takeaways in the win — four came by the way of interceptions.

“Everything starts defensively with stopping the run,” defensive coordinator Lovie Smith said. “I know most offensive teams that say they are a running football team, they come in and want to establish the run. If you are able to do that and make a team one-dimensional, it gives you the opportunity to take the ball away more when they are having to throw it. They threw it last time a lot more than I am sure they wanted to.”

Although the Texans’ run defense did play a solid role in forcing the Titans into altering their game-plan, the absence of running back Derrick Henry played a significant role in Tennessee’s offensive struggles.

Three weeks prior to the Texans’ win against the Titans, Henry sustained a Jones fracture that sidelined him for six to 10 weeks. Without their leading rusher, the Titans’ rushing attack declined, but Tennessee has since found a contingency plan due to the on-field contributions of D’Onta Foreman.

The former Texan has eclipsed over 100 yards in rushing in three of his last five games while recording 413 yards on 89 attempts and three touchdowns.

According to Smith, the key to thwarting a potential revenge game from Foreman at NRG Stadium on Sunday is to be disciplined, play the gap and not allow any explosive plays to break out.

“They’ve gotten back to who they were,” coach David Culley said. “When we played them the first time, they weren’t able to do that. Our defense forced them to do something that they didn’t want to do. But since our game, they’ve gotten back to that. It’s a challenge.”

Culley continued: “They know what they want to do, they do it well, and when they are doing it, they’re a very well-balanced football team offensively as well as not only running the ball but throwing the football. Defensively, that’s a very good front that they have, and they’ve got some guys back that they didn’t have when we played them the last time.”