Titans at Texans score: Tennessee wins AFC South behind Derrick Henry and last-second field goal

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The Tennessee Titans clinched the AFC South for the first time since 2008 with their 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday. It was a close, emotional matchup that came down to the very last play, as replacement kicker Sam Sloman banked in a 37-yard field goal to end the game in regulation. Derrick Henry was once again clutch for the Titans, as he rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. With his huge performance, he became just the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. 

Ryan Tannehill also helped on the ground, as he rushed for 38 yards and two touchdowns as well. It was what he did through the air, however, that helped the Titans secure a victory. With just 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Tannehill unleashed a pretty bomb that landed in A.J. Brown's hands for a gain of 52 yards. It got the Titans down the field in a hurry and set up the eventual game-winning field goal. Brown finished as the Titans' leading receiver, catching 10 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. 

While the Texans ended up on the losing side of this emotional battle, they put up some impressive numbers on offense. Deshaun Watson threw for 365 yards, three touchdowns and an interception; David Johnson rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown; and Brandin Cooks had another monster game, as he caught 11 passes for 166 yards and two scores. Houston did all it could to spoil Tennessee's fun this Sunday and exposed some weaknesses, but the Titans did enough to pull out the win and take home a divisional title. 

Why the Titans won

The Titans' offense won this game, but Henry is who deserves the majority of the credit. While the former second-round pick out of Alabama has established himself as one of the best players in the NFL over the past few years, he officially etched his name in NFL history on Sunday by becoming just the eighth player to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. Henry came into Week 17 needing 223 rushing yards to reach 2,000 on the year. While that sounds nearly impossible for an average running back, Henry was able to rack up 250. It looks like the Titans are going to ride him through the postseason again, and Sunday was a great start. 

Why the Texans lost

The Texans lost because they could not contain Henry, but more importantly, they allowed him to get off to a hot start. Henry is different in the sense that he gets better as the season goes on, and the same goes for each game. If you allow Henry to break loose early on, you're going to be in for a tough night. On the first play of the second quarter, Henry exploded through the Texans defense for a 52-yard touchdown to get things started for the Titans. It was the beginning of what would be an historic night for the back-to-back NFL rushing champ. 

Houston didn't do a good job defending the run in general, as four out of Tennessee's five touchdowns came via the ground. 

Turning point

This game felt like it could go either way late in the fourth quarter. It felt like Tannehill wrapped up the game for the Titans when he scored his second rushing touchdown with less than two minutes remaining, and then it felt like it was the Texans' to lose once Houston started driving with time winding down. Unfortunately, their drive stalled and Ka'imi Fairbairn then tied the game at 38 apiece. It was what happened next, however, that shocked fans on both sides.

Play of the game

After Brown got the Titans into enemy territory, it came down to Sam Sloman to win the game. Sloman was promoted to the active roster just one day ago, but he stepped in and made all five extra-point attempts and both of his field goal attempts -- including this 37-yard game-winning bank shot that won the division for the Titans.

What's next

The Titans, who locked down the fourth seed in the AFC, will host the Baltimore Ravens in the wild-card round. This is the team they upset in the divisional round last year, so Lamar Jackson and Co. will have revenge on their minds. 

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@HoustonTexans via Twitter
January 4, 2021, 12:41 AM
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A banked-in field goal for the win! This game really had everything

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@HoustonTexans via Twitter
January 4, 2021, 12:34 AM
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Tennessee's secondary is sooo bad. They can't stop anything even when they know they are playing on passing downs.

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32 yards on the first play of the drive. That's huge for the Texans. They can at least tie the game here if they play their cards correctly. Keep the ball in the air, I would even take a shot deep here if the defense is giving you the right look. 

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That was a very, very risky throw. Should have been picked off. Tannehill has to be careful here. Game on the line.

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A huge penalty and I don't even see what the refs were seeing.

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Many expected the Texans to lay down after that drive by the Titans to open up the third quarter. No way. They have climbed out of a 31-15 hole to lead the Titans, 35-31. Watson is getting anything he wants through the air! 

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