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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Houston Texans are upset about their 4-4 record midway through the season. Snapping a three-game skid by beating an AFC South opponent makes it easier to look ahead.
Arian Foster ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a scoring pass to help the Texans beat the Tennessee Titans 30-16 on Sunday in a game that was never that close. They needed it after giving up 24 points in quarters in each of their previous two losses.
We're 4-4 and there's a lot of football left, and that was a division win, which is important, very, very important, and it's really good to win," coach Bill O'Brien said. "It's really good to win."
The Titans (2-6) at least have their bye after losing two straight and six of seven. First-year coach Ken Whisenhunt started his third quarterback this season in rookie Zach Mettenberger, but five sacks by the defense couldn't help a struggling offense.
"We're going through the tough part of it right now," Whisenhunt said.
Here are a few things to know as these teams reached the halfway point:
FOSTER'S DAY: For all that Foster has done since 2010, the running back had not put together four straight games topping 100 yards rushing. Until Sunday. Foster had 85 yards at halftime, and finished with his 31st career 100-yard rushing game. That ties Priest Holmes for the most in NFL history by an undrafted player.
Foster also had the Texans' two longest plays with a 43-yard run setting up his second touchdown when he was pushed out of bounds at the 1, and he put Houston ahead to stay with a 34-yard run in the second.
"When you are huffing and puffing and stringing these runs together and then all of a sudden he breaks out a 40-yard run or whatever it may be, it makes you feel real good as an offensive line," Houston center Chris Myers said.
CLOWNEY'S BACK: The No. 1 overall draft pick finally played in his second NFL game. Clowney missed the past six games after needing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee after the opener, and the Texans limited his work playing behind behind starter Whitney Mercilus. Clowney finished with one tackle playing in two of the Texans' defensive packages.
"Conditioning is something he probably has to really work on only because he's missed so much time," O'Brien said.
ROOKIE'S FIRST START: Mettenberger may have gotten a lesson in NFL etiquette from J.J. Watt, with the Texans' defensive end criticizing the quarterback for posting a few too many selfies before his first start. But Mettenberger threw for more yards than any other rookie in his first start for the Tennessee franchise. His 299 yards topped the 281 yards Jacky Lee threw for in the 10th game of 1960 for the then-Houston Oilers in the AFL, though Mettenberger was a TD short of the three Lee had.
"I tell you one thing he did," Whisenhunt said. "He stood in the pocket at times and hung in there and made some throws."
SACKS ACCUMULATING: The Texans have allowed 10 sacks over the past two games, not a good statistic with Houston preparing to host the Philadelphia Eagles. The Titans sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick four times in the first half and got the fifth late in the second half. O'Brien said the offense has to work hard to do a better job protecting the quarterback.
BOOS AND EMPTY SEATS: Some of the fans who showed up to see the rookie make his first NFL start booed as the Titans fell behind yet again, and thousands of seats were empty even with nearly half the fourth quarter remaining. The Titans are 1-3 at home this season under the new coach and have lost eight of their last 10 home games. They have a bye and aren't home again until hosting Pittsburgh the night of Nov. 17.
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