Titans running back Chris Johnson scorched linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59)… (Wade Payne / Associated…)
The Houston Texans know Chris Johnson. The Tennessee Titans running back trampled them to the tune of 197 yards earlier this season.
The Texans are just hoping Johnson doesn't recognize them.
That's because Houston figures its run defense is a lot better than it was in Week 2, when Johnson scored three touchdowns and racked up 284 yards from scrimmage.
Over their last six games, the Texans have yielded an NFL-best average of 60.5 yards on the ground.
"To me, they're getting better and better," Texans Coach Gary Kubiak said of his defense. "They're the strength of our football team right now the way they're playing."
The Titans (3-6) have a major wrinkle of their own. After opening the season with six consecutive losses, they switched from Kerry Collins to Vince Young at quarterback and have won three in a row.
"Right now we're in a situation where we just have to play the rest of our games, and if we win them all maybe something good will happen," linebacker Keith Bulluck told reporters.
"We're trying to stand in anyone's way who is going to go to the postseason, so it makes it fun for us."
The Titans have done a much better job lately of protecting the ball and collecting take-aways. In their six-game losing streak, they were minus-10 in turnover differential. Over the last three games, they are plus-seven, with three interception returns for touchdowns in the last two weeks.
Even though the Texans have played well lately -- they've won three of four, with the loss being by three to undefeated Indianapolis -- they have struggled with turnovers. Quarterback Matt Schaub has nine interceptions, and the running backs have seven fumbles (five by Steve Slaton).
Regardless, the Texans (5-4) have to be happy about where they are: above .500 through nine games for the first time in franchise history.