Houston has not been this devastated since the Oilers left town.
In the most important game in team history, the Texans blew a chance to force overtime on their last series for the fourth time this season.
As a result of their 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Texans are wallowing in a 5-5 quagmire of mediocrity.
For the second consecutive game, Kris Brown missed a field goal that would have tied the score and sent the game into overtime. Brown followed his 42-yard misfire at Indianapolis by missing a 49-yarder with one second left Monday night at Reliant Stadium, securing the Titans’ fourth consecutive victory before a record crowd of 71,153.
With ESPN taking this one coast to coast, Rob Bironas kicked a 53-yard field goal with 47 seconds left to give the Titans the three-point advantage. It was Bironas’ second field goal of the game and his 14th at Reliant Stadium in the past three years.
“It’s very disheartening,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “It was a great game. They’re a hell of a team. Give them credit.”
The Texans got the ball one last time at their 38-yard line. They had two timeouts.
Quarterback Matt Schaub, who was 25-of-39 for 305 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, completed passes of 11 and 14 yards to David Anderson and 6 yards to Kevin Walter to the Titans’ 31.
With eight seconds left, Schaub carried the ball to the middle of the field to set the stage for Brown, but he missed his second 49-yard field-goal try of the game.
“You feel for a guy like that,” said cornerback Dunta Robinson, who has been Brown’s teammate since 2004. “Kris has been good for us for so many years. Back-to-back weeks he’s missed a field goal, and you know how hard he works, how hard he prepares, the kind of competitor he is.
“We know he’s taking it hard. There are a lot of things we didn’t do in this game that ultimately led to the loss.”
The Texans’ running game was nonexistent again, so they had to relay on Schaub, who threw touchdown passes to Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson.
Chris Brown carried 11 times for 36 yards. Slaton had 21 yards on five carries.
Before Bironas kicked his game-winning field goal, Slaton was open at the 50 when he dropped a third-down pass. The defense blew it because the Texans couldn’t keep the Titans from scoring even though Tennessee began its last drive at its 6.
The Texans, who lost their second in a row, have suffered four consecutive defeats by blowing a chance at overtime on their last series.
“In this league, there’s no time to feel sorry for yourself,” Kubiak said.
After an 0-6 start, the Titans are 4-6 — one game behind the Texans.
“It’s frustrating how much we put into it and how hard everyone played,” Schaub said. “
The Titans increased their winning streak to four games, and quarterback Vince Young elevated his record against his hometown team to 4-0.
This was the biggest game in Texans history, and they couldn’t perform to expectations. They were favored by four, and they were called out by Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck, who said the Titans would destroy their playoff hopes and aspirations.
Bulluck backed up the big talk. He threw down the gauntlet, but the Texans couldn’t pick it up.
The Texans had no answer for Chris Johnson, the NFL’s leading rusher. He carried 29 times for 151 yards. He rushed for 348 yards in two games against the Texans this season.
Young hurt the Texans more with his legs than his arm. He ran 11 times for 73 yards. He was especially effective on third down, picking up one first down after another.
“You’ve got to expect that,” outside linebacker Brian Cushing said about Young’s scrambling. “That’s his key weapon. If he doesn’t see anything, he’s going to tuck it and run.”
Young completed 12 of 22 attempts for 116 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t throw an interception. He lost a fumble the Texans couldn’t take advantage of.
The Titans ran for 228 yards to 57 for the Texans. Tennessee outgained the Texans 344 to 340 and controlled the clock for 32:18.