Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor wasn't asked to do too much on Sunday at Nissan Stadium. Then again, he really didn't have to in order to win.
Sure, Taylor's two touchdowns in a 22-13 win over the Tennessee Titans were impressive. The effort ended a 17-quarter run during which the Texans (2-8) could not find the end zone on the road.
But another stat line was far more important here: Turnovers. Houston won that battle 5-0, and it played a massive difference in the outcome.
“Hold onto the ball,” Texans coach David Culley said postgame. “Just hold onto the ball.”
Taylor struggled with the term "hold on" in a 17-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins two weeks prior. In his first game off the injured reserve, he'd toss three interceptions.
Houston that day finished with four turnovers offensively. If not for the defense causing five against Dolphins backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, perhaps the score would have been even more lopsided.
Once again, Houston's defense did its job. The Titans (8-3), who entered the game on top of the AFC South and AFC conference, watched quarterback Ryan Tannehill throw four interceptions. Those four turnovers turned into 10 points for the Texans.
The fifth turnover, on a muffed punt, gave Houston another seven points thanks to a 5-yard TD run by Taylor.
“Definitely feels good to get that win,” Taylor said. “Obviously, it wasn’t a clean game, it wasn’t a perfect game. But it was a win for us.”
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In many aspects, this was a game Tennessee should have won. The Titans outgained Houston 420-190 in total yards. They averaged 5.3 yards per play and netted 26 first downs compared to Houston's 15.
It didn't matter. Houston won the turnover margin. Even in a game filled with flaws, it was enough to survive 60 minutes.
“We’ve got the potential to be something special, and it took a while for us to learn it,” Texans cornerback Desmond King said. “I feel like now it’s starting to mesh a lot more.”
The Texans will return home Sunday to take on the New York Jets (2-8). Neither team was expected to do much in a rebuilding year, but Houston very well could begin a winning streak.
One way to solidify that would be to finally solve the lack of a run game. Once again, the Texans couldn't manage to record over 100 yards on the ground. Veteran Rex Burkhead led the way with 40 of the team's 83 total rushing yards. Taylor tallied another 24 and the team averaged 3.3 yards per play.
“We didn't run the ball as well as we'd like to run the ball today,” Culley said. “We’ve still got improvement there. Obviously having Tyrod’s legs helps us do that. But we’re still not where we need to be running the football.”
Little wins for rebuilding clubs go far. Houston didn't win at the line of scrimmage. The Texans didn't win through the air. The team still can't move the ball on the ground and scoring via the pass feels like a challenge.
Yet, Houston won. Why? Turnovers. Something as simple as holding onto the ball goes far on Sunday afternoons.
It's how Houston just doubled its win total.