NFL: Texans 36, Titans 42 (OT)
NASHVILLE — Expectations for Derrick Henry already are pretty high, with his history of mighty stiff arms and long touchdown runs.
Last season's rushing leader keeps finding new ways to top himself, taking the Tennessee Titans along with him yet again.
Henry took a direct snap and ran 5 yards for a touchdown 3:30 into overtime and the Titans remained undefeated, rallying to beat the Houston Texans 42-36 on Sunday.
“Obviously, we all witnessed somebody taking a game over,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Henry.
The Titans (5-0) finished with a franchise-record 601 yards of total offence. They also became the first team in NFL history to have a passer throw for more than 350 yards with Ryan Tannehill finishing with 364 yards passing and someone rush for at least 200 yards in the same game, according to the NFL.
That helped them overcome two turnovers, Stephen Gostkowski having a field goal blocked and missing another and the defence giving up 335 yards passing and four touchdown passes to Deshaun Watson.
Watson's final TD pass put Houston (1-5) up 36-29 with 1:50 left, but his pass to Randall Cobb on the 2-point conversion attempt failed. Coach Romeo Crennel, in his second game since replacing the fired Bill O'Brien, said he went for the conversion in a bid to put the game out of reach. Crennel also didn't take a timeout before the game-winning TD.
“That play was run in practice, and we should have been prepared,” Crennel said of the wildcat play.
Tannehill, who had three of his 19 career game-winning drives to start this season, drove the Titans 76 yards before finding A.J. Brown on a 7-yard TD pass with 4 seconds left. Gostkowski made the extra point, and the Texans fielded a squib kick to send it into overtime.
Henry ran for 202 yards in regulation, including a 94-yard TD run. In overtime, he took a screen pass 53 yards on the second play. He capped the six-play, 82-yard drive with his second TD of the game, finishing with 212 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving.
The Titans are 16-0 when Henry runs for at least 100 yards. Asked about his performance, Henry kept giving credit to his teammates.
“I just had to do my job,” Henry said more than once.
The Titans have their second-best start in franchise history since this franchise won its first 10 games in 2008. Their win, combined with Pittsburgh's victory over Cleveland, sets up a showdown between the AFC's last two undefeated teams here in a week.
Tannehill finished with four TD passes. He had seen Henry make huge plays before coming to Tennessee.
“He just has that rare size, strength and speed combination that it's extremely rare,” Tannehill said.
The Texans (1-5) came in as the two-time defending AFC South champs and nearly gave Crennel a second straight victory.
“We did not finish the game on defence,” Texans star J.J. Watt said. “We had multiple opportunities and we didn’t do it. And as a leader of the defence, I put that squarely on my shoulders. So this one is very difficult to take.”
Tennessee led 21-10 at halftime. Houston safety Justin Reid blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt by Gostkowski, who later missed a 37-yarder wide left, in the third quarter to set up David Johnson's 1-yard TD run.
The Titans lost left tackle Taylor Lewan to an injured knee on the next drive, and Watt sacked Tannehill two plays later, stripping him of the ball. Jacob Martin recovered for Houston at the Titans 4, and Watson found Randall Cobb at the right pylon for a 4-yard TD pass and a 23-21 lead.
That started a scoring spree.
Henry broke off a 94-yard TD run, racing to the other end zone in 14 seconds. Watson answered two plays later with a 53-yard TD pass to Will Fuller for a 30-29 lead with 8:37 left.
The Titans ended the shootout with a 601-412 advantage in total yards. The previous franchise record for yards from scrimmage was 583 by the Warren Moon-led Houston Oilers, also in overtime, against Dallas on Nov. 10, 1991.
The Titans now have scored at least 31 points in four straight games and came in ranked sixth in the NFL averaging 30.5 points a game. They scored in each of the first two quarters, extending their streak to 15 straight before going scoreless in the third.
They also have scored at least 42 points in back-to-back games for the first time since 1961. The then-Houston Oilers beat the Titans of New York (later the Jets) 48-21 and the Raiders 47-16 in the final two weeks of the 1961 season before beating the Chargers the next week for the AFL title.
The Titans had a handful of players back from the reserve/COVID-19 list: defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, receivers Adam Humphries and Cam Batson, cornerback Kristian Fulton and fullback Khari Blasingame. Only wide receiver Corey Davis and tight end MyCole Pruitt from the active roster remain on that list.
Texans cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III went down late in the second quarter but returned in the third. Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. was hurt tackling Henry in overtime.
Lewan did not return after walking gingerly to the locker room. Titans tight end Jonnu Smith limped to the sideline and had his right foot and ankle retaped. He did not return.
The Texans host the Packers next Sunday.
The Titans host Pittsburgh next Sunday.
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