Alabama’s first NFL INT rookie helps the Texans edge out the Titans

Before Saturday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, Houston coach Lovie Smith said he believes linebacker Christian Harris, with nine games of NFL experience, can help the Texans avoid their usual fate of being trampled underfoot by running back Derrick Henry. .

As it turns out, the Alabama rookie did a big job in the passing game to help Houston snap a nine-game losing streak with a 19-14 win over Tennessee.

With the Texans ahead by five points, Harris picked off Tennessee quarterback Malik Willis’ pass to wide receiver Trellon Burks and returned the football 20 yards to the Tennessee 38-yard line with 1:33 to play.

“I just tried to undermine and put on a play,” Harris said“And that’s all it really was.”

The Giants got the football back with 70 seconds left, and the game ended with an interception by another Houston rookie, safety Jalen Peter, in the end zone on a throw by the Texas 43rd.

Henry entered the game as the only player in NFL history with at least 200 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in four straight games against one opponent – Texas.

And it looked more than the same on Saturday: On his fourth drive, the former Alabama All-American ran 48 yards for a touchdown for the game’s first score with 8:48 left in the first quarter. Henry had 70 yards at that point in the game.

“Derek Henry is the best returner in football,” Smith said. “I mean, this guy is as good as there is. He’s strong, and a lot of those missed tackles, you’re going to bring down the natural fullback. But the guys kept fighting, and when we needed to clamp down and play better, the tackle was better — the team tackle. It takes more than one. to take it down.”

Henry finished with 126 yards on 23 rushing attempts. But he never crossed the goal line again, and Texas limited him to less than 3 yards per carry after that touchdown.

“It was really just maintaining a bigger gap,” Harris said. “…we attacked much better in the second half than we did in the first, and that was kind of a plan. …

“It meant a lot to me and the defence, but realistically we were just trying to come here and do our job, and that’s what we did.”

With 13:44 left to play and Tennessee leading 14-10, Henry lost a fumble on a first and 10 carry from the Houston 44-yard line.

“Trying to break the interference,” Henry said. “I’m trying to fight for the extra yards. You gotta take care of the ball. We practice it. It’s on me. No excuses. The organization puts a lot on me to carry the ball, and I put a lot on my shoulders to do what I can for this team and make plays. That’s three games in a row, I fumbled in The ball. No excuses, I need to take better care of the ball. That’s what you’re supposed to do on a rollback, and I haven’t done that in the last three weeks. I have to get better. I have to get back to work. I feel terrible about it. I’ll feel terrible until we play one more time “.

Henry’s fumble was forced and recovered by linebacker Jake Hansen, as was Harris and rookie Peter.

“We are definitely progressing week by week,” Harris said Young Houston players. “We’re seeing that, and that was kind of a major focus. We’re not thinking too much about the future. What’s in front of you right now, take care of that. You can see the progress.”

Harris also made six tackles in the game, in addition to an interception, breaking up another pass.

While the Texans ended their losing streak to move to 2-12-1, Tennessee suffered its fifth straight defeat to fall to 7-8, now tied for first in the AFC South with Jacksonville, but trailing the Jaguars in head-to-head. Head tie break. The Titans lost to Jacksonville 36-22 on December 11 and played the Jaguars again in the regular season finale on January 8.

Ahead, Tennessee faces the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.

“Five in a row, too difficult,” Henry said. “You try to find the words to say, but I think at the same time, you have to be positive. We still have a chance. We have a short week. We have to play with Dallas. We have to have a short memory. But for me, it will definitely hurt because I feel That we were in a position to go down and score, and I didn’t take care of the ball.”

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Mark Inapinet is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at Hahahaha.

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