HOUSTON (AP)After coming oh-so close in their past two games, the Houston Texans finally got over the hump Saturday with a win over the Tennessee Titans to snap a nine-game skid.
Houston (2-12-1) beat Tennessee 19-14 for its first victory since beating the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 9.
The Texans entered Saturday’s game having lost to the Cowboys 27-23 two weeks ago before falling to 30-24 to the Chiefs in overtime last week.
In the loss to Kansas City, Houston got beat after Davis Mills lost a fumble in overtime and the Chiefs scored on the next play.
This past weekend, Mills finally found a way to finish a close game. He connected with Brandin Cooks on a 6-yard touchdown pass with about three minutes left to put the Texans on top.
Rookie Christian Harris intercepted Malik Willis with about 1:30 left and fellow rookie Jalen Pitre grabbed his desperation throw in the end zone as time expired to secure Houston’s win.
”We’ve been competitive throughout,” coach Lovie Smith said. ”And it just takes time is the message. When you come in you want to win every game right away. But when you’re changing culture, you’re changing all these things. And you need to go through some adversity to figure out exactly who’s with us. So that’s what we went through there.”
Mills has faced plenty of adversity this season and was benched for the two games before the Cowboys loss after throwing 11 interceptions in 10 games.
On Saturday, he threw for 178 yards with a touchdown and an interception to help Houston to the win.
”You can be down,” Smith said. ”If you keep fighting, there’s a chance for you to get that bad taste out of your mouth.”
Mills has been impressed with the attitude of his teammates in this difficult season.
”The record is what it is at this point, but we’re coming and fighting for everything we can do, week in and week out to try to go out there and scratch our way to get some wins,” he said.
Houston forced a season-high three turnovers for the second time in three games Saturday. Smith continually preaches the importance of takeaways and his team’s ability to get them in recent weeks is a major reason why the Texans have been more competitive.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The Texans allowed 184 yards rushing Saturday for their seventh game this season allowing 170 yards rushing or more. Houston ranks last in the NFL in giving up 168.6 yards rushing a game.
”We missed tackles at some critical moments is what has happened,” Smith said. ”And if you miss certain tackles in critical moments, it can be a breakout.”
Harris, who was a third-round pick this year, has started to play well after his rookie season got off to a slow start after he missed the first five games with a hamstring injury.
His interception Saturday was the first of his career and he had six tackles. That performance came after he had 13 tackles, including three for losses, against the Chiefs.
RB Royce Freeman had just 32 yards rushing on 16 carries against Tennessee in his second game filling in for Dameon Pierce, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. The subpar outing came a week after he had 51 yards rushing on just 11 carries in his season debut.
OL Tytus Howard and DB M.J. Stewart both sustained concussions Saturday. … TE Teagan Quitoriano hurt a knee against the Titans.
9 – The Texans have won nine consecutive games against their next opponent, the Jaguars. Jacksonville, which is vying with Tennessee for the AFC South title, hasn’t beaten Houston since a 45-7 victory on Dec. 17, 2017.
The Texans host Jacksonville in their home finale Sunday before wrapping up the season at Indianapolis Jan. 8.
”The fact that we are finishing it off with divisional opponents, that’s awesome to try to gain that momentum at the end of the season,” Cooks said.
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