At full strength, Texans' defense clicks

At full strength, Texans' defense clicks
September 15, 2013, 8:30 pm
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Brian Cushing: 'I'm a hungry football player'

The Texans’ defense gave up just four yards in the entire third quarter. Four.

And then, to start the fourth quarter, it got even better, when Joe Mays tackled Chris Johnson in the end zone for a safety.

“It was just good to have everybody together,” said linebacker Darryl Sharpton, who played his first game of the season. “I felt like we were running on all cylinders today. Everybody played big today. It was just a good effort all around.”

The Texans’ defense, which was back to full strength on Sunday, at times showed just how dynamic it has the chance to be this season in a 30-24 overtime win over the Titans at Reliant Stadium.

But for all its great work in the second half, the Texans’ defense gave up a 99-yard touchdown drive that gave the Titans a 17-16 lead in the fourth quarter.

“We let down one series, and we just can’t do that,” Phillips said. “But other than that, I thought we played real well.”

On that drive, the Titans had five first downs. Those were the only five first downs the Texans gave up in the second half. The Titans' drives in the second half went like this: punt, punt, punt, punt, safety, 99-yard-touchdown drive, punt, punt.  

“Disappointed,” Cushing said about the touchdown drive. “Obviously, it was a huge point in the game when we’re up 16-10. We let them drive right down us and go up and get the lead. It’s a sickening feeling. But we didn’t quit; we didn’t quit.”

While the Texans’ defense played well for the majority of the game, it gave up two touchdown drives of at least 80 yards. Of the 248 total yards of offense from the Titans, 179 of them came on two drives. Those two drives also accounted for 10 of the Titans’ 14 first downs. The Texans’ defense gave up 69 yards outside of those two drives.

With Sharpton back from injury and Antonio Smith back from suspension, the entire Texans’ defense played on Sunday. And for the second straight week, the unit really clamped down in the second half.

“Yeah, I think they’re just like the offense where they just have to gel to get that chemistry together,” running back Arian Foster said of his team’s defense. “It’s early in the season and everybody in the NFL feels like that we keep putting out these wins but we’re not playing our best ball. So that says a lot.”

Cushing has a stellar game a week after a huge interception return for a touchdown in the opener. Cushing had a career-high two sacks and led the defense with 11 solo tackles.

“He looked like the Cush that everyone knows him to be,” Sharpton said. “He really played aggressively, made a whole bunch of stops. You could tell he was playing with a whole lot of confidence and that’s good for this team.”

And the NFL’s reigning defensive player of the year wasn’t bad either.

“Yeah, I’m in the groove,” J.J. watt said. “I’m back in the groove. I feel great. It feels good. Everything is coming into place nice. Teams are trying to do a couple of things here and there and I just need to make my adjustments here and there.”

Watt had two sacks in the game to go along with two passes defensed. It was his eighth career game with two sacks. He made life difficult for rookie first-round pick Chance Warmack, the guard who was assigned to Watt on Sunday afternoon.

“I won’t be a rookie anymore,” Warmack said about the next time he’ll get to face Watt in the regular season finale. “He’s very elusive. He’s definitely a great player, but once we made adjustments; he wasn’t really that disruptive in to the second half of the game. It’s a game of adjustments.”