Titans eager to test stingier D against Houston

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm •  Published: September 12, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are pretty happy with their dominating defensive performance in the season opener. After all, nine points is a big improvement from the nightmare of 2012.

Still, the team that gave up the most points in the NFL last season also knows it's way too early to think anything has been proven yet.

Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said Thursday they need to wait to see if the Titans have the defense they tried to build. He says he was deservedly criticized in 2012 with the Titans allowing a franchise-worst 471 points.

"At the end of the year, hopefully we're in the playoffs and we'll get a chance to see," Gray said.

The Titans allowed at least 30 points in each of the first five games in 2012 and were embarrassed with a 55-7 loss at Green Bay in the next to last game.

So they went out this offseason and brought in six veteran free agents for the defense alone, trying to add size on the line with tackles Sammie Hill and Antonio Johnson and end Ropati Pitoitua. They added leadership and physical tackling in safeties Bernard Pollard and George Wilson along with a new middle linebacker in Moise Fokou.

Tennessee opened this season with a splash, holding the Steelers to only a touchdown scored with 83 seconds left and 195 yards total offense in a 16-9 victory in Pittsburgh. The other points? A safety on the opening kickoff — not allowed by the defense.

Now the Titans (1-0) are preparing to head to Houston where a much different challenge awaits.

Matt Schaub and Arian Foster helped the Texans put up 38 points when these teams last played in Houston on Sept. 30, 2012. Texans coach Gary Kubiak called the Titans' opener an excellent defensive performance, and he can see signs of Gregg Williams' aggressive style as a senior assistant coach for defense.

"To go out and hold a team on the road to 195 yards, that's a statement in itself," Kubiak said. "They can get after the quarterback up front, so we know we've got our hands full."

The Titans sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times with tackle Jurrell Casey and linebacker Zach Brown getting two apiece.

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