NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Houston Texans are heading back to the playoffs for a second straight year and already have set a franchise record for wins in a season.
Their defense made sure they didn't need overtime for this latest win, 24-10 over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Rookie linebacker Whitney Mercilus recovered a fumble and had two sacks as the Texans (11-1) remain tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NFL with their sixth straight win. After needing overtime the past two games, the Texans forced six turnovers they turned into 10 points and had six sacks of Jake Locker when the Texans weren't batting down a handful of other passes.
Houston swept Tennessee (4-8), the team it replaced in Houston, for only the second time. Matt Schaub threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns, and Arian Foster ran for a TD.
The Titans debuted new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, but they didn't help him out much as receivers repeatedly dropped balls.
Tennessee scored on a 34-yard pass from Locker to Kenny Britt late in the third quarter to pull within 24-10. The Titans even had third-and-3 at the Houston 7 early in the fourth quarter before Jared Cook had a pass go off his hands, then Locker was sacked on the next play. Tennessee turned it over on downs with 4:28 left after driving to the Houston 33.
Darryl Sharpton got the third interception off Locker with 2:05 left. Locker finished with two fumbles and three interceptions.
The Texans avoided all the late-game dramatics needed in beating first Jacksonville, then Detroit in overtime in a span of five days. But their injury list grew.
Linebackers Bradie James and Brooks Reed, cornerback Johnathan Joseph and right tackle Derek Newton all sat out. Cornerback Brice McCain hurt his foot and couldn't finish. Tight end Garrett Graham also suffered a head injury and couldn't finish.