The Tennessee Titans had the game within their grasp Sunday in Houston, but could not hold on, falling 30-24 in overtime to the Texans.
DeAndre Hopkins' 3-yard TD on third-and-goal in OT over Jason McCourty sealed the comeback win for Houston.
Tennessee had victory within reach, taking a 17-16 lead in the fourth quarter as Jake Locker led a 99-yard touchdown march to give Tennessee the lead. Locker hit Delanie Walker for a 10-yard touchdown to cap the drive and give the Titans the lead back.
Moments later, the Titans moved closer to putting the game away when Alterraun Verner returned his interception of Matt Schaub 23 yards for a score and a 24-16 advantage.
“We’re the type of team that’s going to be in every game no matter who we play and we have to learn how to win these football games. It’s a hard loss,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “The guys fought hard and like I said we will learn from it and realize we were right there at their place with a great chance to win.”
The Texans, however, fought back and scored with 1:53 to play when Arian Foster scored the touchdown and then also just nosed the ball over the edge of the goal line for the two-point conversion that tied the game.
Tennessee's offense could not move the football, going three-and-out as Locker missed a wide-open Kenny Britt on third down.
“It’s tough. It’s really difficult,” said Locker, who completed 16 of 26 passes for 139 yards and two scores. “This is what’s tough about this sport. It doesn’t all go the way you’d like it in hard fought games like this. That’s why you love it so much, that’s why it’s so tough at times.”
Tennessee punted, and Houston began to drive again in the final minutes of regulation, getting into position for a Randy Bullock 51-yard field goal try.
Bulluck connected, but the Titans had called timeout to ice him. The Titans then blocked the kick, but Michael Griffin, who got through on the play, was called for being offside. Bulluck then lined up from 46 yards, and missed, but Tennessee burned another timeout to ice him again.
Bulluck then missed as the kick hit the left upright, and the game went to overtime.
The Texans took the ball after winning the toss in overtime, and Schaub and the Houston running game shredded the tired Titans defense. Hopkins burned the Titans with a 25-yard gain for a first-and-goal situation and then ended the game three plays later.
“We had that game wrapped up and we didn’t finish. We need to finish better. It’s a division game, but it’s just one game,” defensive end Derrick Morgan said. “We have a long season ahead and we’re just going to use this to fuel us. We didn’t close the game out when we had the chance; and we had ample chances to do it, but we didn’t close it out and they came back.”
Things looked bleak for the Titans at the end of the third quarter when the Texans trapped Chris Johnson in the end zone for a safety and a 16-10 lead.
That's when Locker came alive for the drive that put Tennessee back in front.
In the first half, each team scored on its opening possession as Houston scored out of the gate on 1-yard pass from Schaub to Gerrit Graham.
Tennessee answered with a drive of its own with Kendall Wright scoring from 10 yards out on a throw where Locker threaded the needle.
In between the fast start and the furious finish, the Texans missed two field goals from 50 yards each, and Rob Bironas connected on 1 of 2 attempts as Tennessee took a 10-7 lead at the half.
Houston scored on its first possession in the third quarter to go up 14-10.
“I thought we played our tails off. I do. I really believe we played our tails off. We’re not going to play a perfect game but at the same time we played a good enough game to win,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “But you know we’ve got to learn in situations like this, we left so many things out there on the field, and as a player you cannot do that.”
The Titans return home to face the San Diego Chargers on Sunday after two games on the road.
The Titans lost defensive tackle Sammie Hill to an ankle injury in the first half of the game. Antonio Johnson replaced him in the lineup.
Running back Shonn Greene (knee) and receiver Damian Williams (hamstring) were inactive.