The Titans remain a team in turmoil, as Sunday in Houston the team played their worst game in a very long time, losing to the Houston Texans 20-0 in a game that might as well had been over at the coin toss.
Rookie quarterback Rusty Smith made his first NFL start for the Titans, and went 17-of-31 passes for 138 yards. He was also picked off three times by Texan Glover Quin.
Smith, a sixth-round draft pick this year out of Florida Atlantic, made his debut in last Sunday’s overtime loss to Washington after Vince Young sustained an injury that will require season-ending surgery to repair a flexor tendon in his right thumb. That was only the beginning of the drama.
Arian Foster was the Titan killer this Sunday, going for 143 yards and also caught nine passes for the Texans (5-6), who got their first shutout since 2004.
While the game was bad enough for the Titans, it got even worse when Texan WR Andre Johnson and Titan CB Courtland Finnegan began to slug it out midway through the fourth quarter.
The Titans moved into Houston territory for the first time with 13:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. However, the drive ended with Quin hauling in a pass intended for Justin Gage at the three-yard line.
It was during the ensuing possession that Johnson and Finnegan were involved in a fist fight. After they ripped off each other’s helmets, Johnson threw Finnegan to the ground and took a couple swings at him before players and officials intervened.
“I really don’t have anything to say about Cortland (Finnegan),” the Houston wide receiver said. “I would like to apologize to the organization, our owner, and my teammates. What happened out there today was not me. I just lost my cool and I wish that I could take back what happened, but I can’t. It’s over and done with now. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be disciplined for it. When that time comes, I’ll find out what it is and have to deal with it from there.”
This was Round 2 between Johnson and Finnegan. Last season, Johnson was fined $7,500 for taking Finnegan to the ground by the face mask during a scuffle after a play in a 34-31 Texans win.
Matt Schaub threw two second-quarter touchdown passes, throwing for 178 yards on 25-of-35 efficiency for the Texans. Johnson caught nine passes for 56 yards and one score.
Chris Johnson was limited to just five yards on seven carries for Tennessee (5-6), which was dealt its fourth straight loss, and it looks like all the talk of the playoffs is on the back burner after another humbling defeat.
“(Smith) made some good throws,” Fisher said. “Obviously we didn’t play well enough to win the game. We had a couple balls we’d like to have back. Everybody has to help. Our defense can walk away saying they played really hard until the end.”
The Titans are at home for the Jags next Sunday.