FRED FAOUR

Texans pick up eighth straight win, beat Titans thanks to a terrific running game

Deshaun Watson had a big game running the ball, as did the Texans. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Texans took another big step in the road to the AFC South title, knocking off Tennessee 34-17 on Monday Night Football. They simply just keep getting it done during an eight-game winning streak that has erased a brutal 0-3 start.

They got it done despite falling in a 10-0 hole early after giving up a 61-yard touchdown pass on a blown coverage.

They got it done primarily because they ran the ball 34 times for 281 yards, including 162 by Lamar Miller, who had a 97-yard burst in the first half.

They got it done because Deshaun Watson was very good both throwing and running the ball. He threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns to Demaryius Thomas on 19 of 24 passing and rushed for another 70 yards and a score. He did not turn the ball over, although he was ruled down by contact on a play that could easily have been a fumble.

They got it done despite a nice game by Marcus Mariota, who completed his first 19 passes and played really well. The Titans were slowed by offensive penalties and six sacks by the Texans, but Mariota was terrific and Tennessee would not have been in the game at all without him. He would finish 21 of 22 for 292 yards and two TDs.

They got it done thanks to Christian Covington (2.5 sacks), J.J. Watt (1.5 sacks), Whitney Mercilus (1.5 sacks) and Jadeveon Clowney (a half sack).

And the Texans got it done because there were two key plays early that went the Texans’ way. Down 10-0, Houston fumbled on a kickoff return, and a Titans player briefly jumped on the ball, but the Texans recovered. They marched down the field and cut the lead to 10-7.

In the second quarter, with the Texans up 14-10, the Titans went for a fourth and one at the Texans’ 3. The defense stuffed the play, and on the first snap after that, Miller broke off his 97-yard touchdown run.

The Texans ran the ball effectively the entire first half, putting up 200 yards, 148 from Miller. Those two plays were the difference in a half the Texans led 24-10. They were able to do just enough in the second half to close the game.

Now the Texans sit at 8-3, with the eight consecutive wins. They lead the AFC South by two games over Indianapolis, which has won five in a row and are 6-5. The Titans fell to 5-6.

It was not perfect. The Texans gave up some big plays in the passing game, and the offense struggled on third down. But it was a solid performance against a team that was desperate.

And the Texans got it done.

 

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Walter will host The Night of Champions. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images.

In 2014, Austin Walter rushed for 2,704 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior at Crosby High School. Despite falling short of a state title, Walter was named District 19-4A MVP and finished his prep career with a little over 6,000 rushing yards on 613 carries (6,062 yds). Seven years later, Walter will be returning to his high school alma mater to give back to the community that laid the foundation for an NFL career as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

"It's a blessing to be able to come from a small town and be one of the guys who made it out," Walter said. "Not a lot of people made it to the NFL or the NBA from Crosby High School. To be one of the first, it's an amazing feeling. It's a blessing and an honor."

On Thursday, April 15, Walter will host The Night of Champions to benefit the Crosby High School Booster Club from 6-9 p.m. The event will be a weight lifting competition at Crosby High School for student-athletes around the area to showcase their talents and abilities.

In addition to hosting a weight lifting showcase, Walter will also share his life teachings with student-athletes in attendance. Perseverance and not taking no for an answer will be one of the most vital messages the Crosby native will share with aspiring pro-athletes. It's the two virtues Walter has leaned on from little league football to the NFL. And as an undrafted prospect in 2019, it was that same morale that helped him outshine six other running backs during the 49ers rookie training camp that same year.

"Before I started playing football in high school, a lot of people thought I was too small," Walter said. "They thought because we played little league and not in middle school we would not make it in high school. My twin brother [Ashton Walter] and I did not listen to that. We just kept pushing forward."

"When I left Rice, people thought I was going to play in the Canadian league or AFF, and I did not take no for an answer. I believed in myself. And I believed in God. And if I can make it out of a small town like Crosby, anybody can make it...It's the mentality I've had my entire life of not quitting. I feel like that is what got me to the point I am at right now."

Whether their life goal is to play in the NFL or not, Walter's primary objective for The Night of Champions is to be an inspiration and show kids they can find success despite their environment. It is one of the things the former XFL running back (Dallas Renegades) wished he would have seen growing up in Crosby.

After graduating from Crosby High School, Walter went on to have a record-breaking collegiate career at Rice University. He became one of two players in school history to rush for over 1,500 yards (1,744 yds.) and 1,000 kick return yards (1,548 yds.) in four seasons with the Owls. In February, Walter signed a one-year contract extension to re-join the 49ers ahead of the 2021 NFL season.

Click here to learn more about The Night of Champions at Crosby High School or support Walter and the Crosby High School Booster Club.

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