The Titans outgained the Texans 354 yards to 332. It marked the fifth time in 2012 they had more yardage than their opponents. They are 2-3 in those games.
DEFENSE LIMITS TEXANS ON THIRD DOWN: The Titans defense limited the Texans to four conversions on 17 third-down attempts. The Texans’ 24-percent conversion rate was their second-lowest of the season through 12 games, behind only their 21.4 percent rate against the Bears on Nov. 11. The Titans defense only allowed a lower third-down percentage in one game this season—15.4 percent at Miami on Nov. 11.
TITANS LIMIT FOSTER TO 38 YARDS: The Titans defense limited Texans running back Arian Foster to 38 yards on 14 carries, an average of 2.7 yards per attempt. It marked the second time this season they held Foster, the NFL’s second-leading rusher through 11 weeks, to less than 100 yards. In the first matchup on Sept. 30, Foster gained 86 yards on 24 attempts (3.6 per carry).
300 YARDS FOR LOCKER: For the second time in seven career starts, Titans quarterback Jake Locker reached the 300-yard passing mark. He finished the game with 21 completions, 309 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions on 45 attempts. Additionally, he rushed for 38 yards on four attempts to give him 347 combined passing and rushing yards. Locker previously reached the 300-yard passing mark in a game earlier this season against the Detroit Lions (Sept. 23).
WRIGHT SETS CAREER HIGH IN YARDS: Titans rookie receiver Kendall Wright led the team with six receptions and set a new high with 78 receiving yards. His previous career high was 71 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers (Oct. 11).
WASHINGTON LEADS TEAM IN RECEIVING YARDS: For the fifth time in 2012, wide receiver Nate Washington led the team in receiving yards. Against the Texans, he caught three total passes for 96 yards. In the fourth quarter, he recorded a 49-yard reception, his second-longest catch of the season (71 yards against Detroit on Sept. 23).
TOUCHDOWN PASS IN 16 CONSECUTIVE GAMES: Dating back to the final four games of the 2011 campaign, the Titans now have at least one touchdown pass in 16 consecutive games. Against the Texans, Jake Locker and Kenny Britt connected for a 34-yard score.
BRITT CATCHES LONG BALL FOR A SCORE: Kenny Britt’s 34-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter gave him three touchdowns in 2012 and 18 in his four-year career.
LOCKER TOUCHDOWN PASS: In the third quarter, Jake Locker connected with Kenny Britt for a 34-yard touchdown pass. The play gave Locker eight touchdown passes in 2012 and 12 touchdown passes in his two-year career.
OFFENSIVE LINE FORCED TO SHUFFLE: The Titans went into the game with seven active offensive linemen. The one additional offensive lineman on the roster, tackle Byron Stingily, was inactive. Injuries forced them to adjust their normal lineup of left tackle Michael Roos, left guard Steve Hutchinson, center Fernando Velasco, right guard Deuce Lutui and right tackle David Stewart. On their first offensive series, Stewart went down with a fractured right leg, and Mike Otto entered in his place. Then, in the second quarter, Hutchinson went out with a right knee injury, and reserve Kevin Matthews was called upon to play. Roos momentarily went out in the third quarter, forcing the Titans to field a lineup of Otto at right tackle, Hutchinson back in the game at left guard, Matthews at center, Lutui at right guard and Velasco at right tackle. When Roos came back on the next drive, they returned to a lineup (from left to right) of Roos, Matthews, Velasco, Lutui and Otto.
WASHINGTON EXTENDS STREAK: With a 19-yard catch in the second quarter, wide receiver Nate Washington extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 74, including all 60 games he has played with the Titans.
KERN HITS SECOND-LONGEST PUNT OF CAREER: With the Titans backed up at their own seven-yard line in the first quarter, Brett Kern hit the second-longest punt of his career, booting the ball 70 yards. The only longer punt of his career was a 71-yarder at Miami two games earlier (Nov. 25).
ANOTHER 20-YARD GAIN FOR CHRIS JOHNSON: On the Titans’ first series, Chris Johnson gained 26 yards on a run. It was Johnson’s seventh carry in 2012 in which he rushed for at least 20 yards. He entered the week ranked fifth in the NFL in 20-yard rushes. Johnson finished the game with 51 yards on 13 carries and 20 yards on four receptions.
MOONEY MAKES NFL DEBUT: Against the Texans, Titans rookie fullback Collin Mooney made his NFL debut. Mooney, a West Point graduate who spent the previous three years fulfilling his commitment to the U.S. Army, was signed as a rookie free agent during the offseason. He spent the first 11 games of the season on the Titans’ practice squad. Titans inactives included quarterback Rusty Smith, running back Jamie Harper, cornerback Ryan Mouton, linebacker Colin McCarthy, tackle Byron Stingily, wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins and defensive tackle DaJohn Harris.
Rossview Wrestling captured the Hopkinsville Dual tournament for the second year in a row this past week
The Hawks did it with wins over Calloway, Paducah-Tillman and Hopkinsville.
Rossview met Northeast in the finals and won on the sixth tiebreaker.
“This is a turning point for us and we are looking forward to keeping the momentum going,” Rossview Coach Dan Cozine said after the win.
Connor Gordon and Anthony Cole were both undefeated on the day and stellar performances were turned in by Jake Beatty, Donovan Sandusky and Curtis Thomas.
Fort Campbell had two dual wrestling matches on Friday and Saturday.
Friday night, the Falcons beat Sycamore 45-28, wining eight of the 14 matches.
But Fort Campbell fell to Vincennes (IL) Lincoln 46-36 Saturday. The Falcons lost six of the 14 matches.
Fort Campbell (FOCA) 45.0 Sycamore (SYCA) 28.0
195: Peyton Harris, SYCA, pinned Caleb Carter, FOCA, 0:00.
220: Tony Seay, SYCA, forf. .
285: Billy Black, SYCA, pinned Jake Jorstad, FOCA, 0:00.
106: Brandon Waugh, SYCA, forf. .
113: Anthony Dewitt, FOCA, dec. Austin Henley, SYCA, 20-13.
120: Jacob Ellison, FOCA, pinned Travis Snyder, SYCA, 2:07.
126: Jose Intriago, FOCA, pinned Michael Chandler, SYCA, 1:26.
132: Brian Hedrick, FOCA, forf. . 138: David Sahms, FOCA, forf. .
145: Nick Ringle, FOCA, dec. James Eads, SYCA, 6-3.
152: Mike Binns, SYCA, tech. fall Josh Green, FOCA, 0:00 24-9.
160: Jerry Haywood, FOCA, pinned Nick Sharpe, SYCA, 0:10.
170: Ki Ryder, FOCA, dec. Nick Sharpe, SYCA, 6-4. (SYCA 170 threw headgear -1.000)
182: Enrique Martinez, FOCA, pinned Noah Bryles, SYCA, 2:26.
Vincennes Lincoln (VL) 46.0 Fort Campbell (FOCA) 36.0
106: Joel Nowl, VL, pinned Syanne Ferguson, FOCA, 0:00.
113: Nick Brooks, FOCA, forf. .
120: A Tromley, VL, pinned Jacob Ellison, FOCA, 0:00.
126: A Norrick, VL, tech. fall Jose Intriago, FOCA, 0:00 15-0.
132: Brian Hedrick, FOCA, pinned W Warner, VL, 0:00.
138: David Sahms, FOCA, forf. .
145: Nighgell Davidson, FOCA, pinned S Worland, VL, 0:00.
152: S Okes, VL, tech. fall Gino Haywood, FOCA, 0:00 17-2.
160: Jerry Haywood, FOCA, pinned D Drake, VL, 0:00.
170: M Dillion, VL, pinned Trevor Christie, FOCA, 0:00.
182: s Wheeler, VL, forf. .
195: G Carver, VL, pinned Caleb Carter, FOCA, 0:00.
220: J Combs, VL, forf. .
285: Jake Jorstad, FOCA, pinned A Lewis, VL, 0:48.
By Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Tennessee Titans had six turnovers Sunday in a 24-10 loss to the Houston Texans, giving them 13 combined in their last two games at LP Field.
Quarterback Jake Locker was intercepted three times and lost two fumbles.
“The turnovers (are) what ended up killing us,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said.
Locker also was sacked six times, and the Titans (4-8) lost their second straight — along with right tackle David Stewart breaking his right leg on the opening series. Left guard Steve Hutchinson also hurt his right knee late in the first half, and even left tackle Michael Roos went out briefly after going down.
That left Locker getting banged around and knocked down to the point he even bit his tongue on a play that had coaches worried the quarterback hurt his left, non-throwing shoulder again.
Munchak fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer on Monday, hoping to provide a boost to the offense. Tennessee outgained Houston (11-1) 354-332 in total offense. But once Locker settled down after a rough start that saw him throw incomplete on seven straight passes in the first quarter, he got little help as teammates dropped a handful of balls.
“The players eventually have to catch those balls, make plays, and we didn’t at times,” Munchak said.
While the Titans figure out what to play for next, the Texans enjoyed clinching a second straight postseason berth and setting a franchise record for wins in a season.
“We’re very happy, I can tell you that,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “But I think they expected to get there, and they got there today. There’s a lot more to work on. We’ve got to continue to push our group.”
Rookie linebacker Whitney Mercilus recovered a fumble and had two sacks as the Texans remain tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NFL with their sixth straight win. The Texans turned those turnovers into 10 points and also improved to 6-0 on the road this season, the only unbeaten team away from home.
The Texans also swept Tennessee, the team they replaced in Houston, for only the second time. Matt Schaub threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns, and Arian Foster ran for a TD.
“To work so hard to turn things around and go out and have a performance like that is very frustrating,” Titans running back Chris Johnson said.
Tennessee scored on a 34-yard pass from Locker to Kenny Britt late in the third quarter to pull within 24-10. The Titans had plenty of chances, including third-and-3 at the Houston 7 early in the fourth quarter before Locker was sacked and fumbled on fourth down.
Darryl Sharpton sealed the win with the third interception with 2:05 left. Locker finished with two fumbles and three interceptions.
“I guess that’s why we’re 4-8,” Munchak said. “We can’t make enough plays to win when we have an opportunity.”
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 a bit longer when cornerback Brice McCain hurt his foot and couldn’t finish. Tight end Garrett Graham also suffered a head injury and couldn’t finish.
Houston improved on last season’s 10 wins with Schaub tossing a TD pass each to Lestar Jean and James Casey for a 14-3 lead in the second quarter. By halftime, Schaub completed passes to eight teammates, including himself off a batted ball he pulled in for a 6-yard loss.
Shaun Cody tipped Locker’s pass to Houston linebacker Tim Dobbins, a Nashville native, who ran it 7 yards to the Tennessee 3 before Locker knocked him up into the air. Arian Foster scored on a 2-yard TD run two plays later for a 21-3 lead midway through the second quarter. Shayne Graham added a 50-yard field goal in the third quarter after Mercilus recovered Locker’s fumble forced by Antonio Smith.
That was all Houston needed with the defense disrupting Tennessee repeatedly.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had another sack, giving him 15 1-2, adding to his franchise record for a season and joining Reggie White as the only NFL players with at least 15 sacks and 13 passes defensed in a season. Watt batted down a couple of passes, giving him 15 for the season.
“Obviously, we’ve had some struggles the last two weeks, but today is what we’re used to and the way we’re used to playing with the turnovers and the momentum swings,” Watt said.
Smith had a sack and recovered a fumble by Johnson he ran to the end zone waving the ball in the air, thinking and hoping he had a TD in the second quarter.
But officials had whistled the play dead at the spot of the turnover.
Notes: Andre Johnson, the AFC offensive player for November, had five catches for 56 yards after totaling 35 catches for 614 yards over the past month. … Foster’s streak of rushing for at least 90 yards a game ended at five. He ran for 38 yards on 14 carries.
ATLANTA — Braves general manager Frank Wren took care of his primary offseason assignment by signing his top target, B.J. Upton, to a five-year, $75.25 million deal. Now Wren will attempt to complete his roster reconstruction process with the addition of an outfielder and possibly a bench player.
When Wren travels to Nashville, Tenn., for the start of this year’s Winter Meetings, his focus will likely be on finding an outfielder who could serve as a leadoff hitter. It appears he still has somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million to fill his remaining roster needs.
Upton should provide Atlanta with the middle-of-the-lineup right-handed presence that the club wanted to add to a lineup that already includes left-handed power threats Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann.
While the Braves know Upton will sit in the middle of their lineup, they do not know who will replace Michael Bourn as their catalyst at the top of the lineup. In attempt to fill this need, they will continue to evaluate the trade and free-agent markets.
One of their top options was erased on Thursday, when the Nationals acquired Denard Span from the Twins. The Braves were interested in acquiring Span to be their leadoff hitter.
Much of the activity surrounding Atlanta at this week’s Meetings will likely involve the trade market. Along with the possibility of acquiring an outfielder via trade, there is a chance the Braves could attempt to move Tommy Hanson’s $4 million salary in an effort to afford Shane Victorino or another free-agent outfielder.
Wren has remained active during the weeks leading up to this year’s Meetings. After veteran backup catcher David Ross signed with the Red Sox, the Braves signed Gerald Laird to a two-year, $3 million contract. Then to highlight this offseason’s activity, they outbid the Phillies with the five-year offer to Upton.
Outfielder: Atlanta would like to add a left fielder who is capable of serving as their leadoff hitter. With some uncertainty about the state of the Rockies’ front office, it might be a challenge to strike a deal for Dexter Fowler. If the Braves can free up some money, they could be in the market for Victorino, who is expected to receive a three-year deal worth approximately $27 million.
Third base: Atlanta doesn’t need a third baseman. But if they are unable to find a left fielder, there is still a chance they could keep Martin Prado in left field and utilize Juan Francisco as their primary third baseman. Francisco has gotten himself in better shape and has impressed scouts with his play in the Dominican Winter League.
Bench/Clubhouse presence: The clubhouse will have a little different feel next year without the leadership that Chipper Jones, Ross and Eric Hinske have provided over the past few years. Tim Hudson will continue his role as one of the club’s leaders and Dan Uggla will also likely assume an enhanced role. But there might also be a desire for the Braves to pursue a veteran bench player like Mark DeRosa, who is already tight with McCann and some of the other players.
Who they can or need to trade
SP Tommy Hanson: Hanson’s value is certainly not what it was when he arrived as the game’s top pitching prospect three years ago. Concerns about his drop in velocity and his unorthodox mechanics create questions about his future. But the big right-hander did win 13 games this past season and will make approximately $4 million this season. With the Cubs recently signing Scott Feldman for $6 million, there certainly could be a market for Hanson.
SP Julio Teheran: Teheran’s status as one of the game’s top pitching prospects took a little bit of a hit as he struggled with Triple-A Gwinnett this past season. But there will be plenty of teams interested in this 21-year-old right-hander, who pitched effectively in August and carried some of that success to the Dominican Winter League.
RHP Randall Delgado: Delgado has already impressed many scouts while already making more than 20 starts at the big league level. He might not have the same upside as Teheran, but Delgado has shown the potential to be a No. 2 or 3 starter in the big leagues.
RHPs Teheran, Delgado, Lucas Sims, J.R. Graham, Zeke Spruill, C Christian Bethancourt; LHPs Sean Gilmartin and Alex Wood; OF Todd Cunningham; 3B Joe Terdoslavich. With some pitching depth, Atlanta might be willing to trade a few of its top pitching prospects. Bethancourt, Graham and Sims would likely be the only members of this group that would be deemed untouchable.
Big contracts to possibly unload
If the Braves are going to move some money, they will likely have to do so by moving Hanson. There is essentially no reason to believe they could trade either McCann, who will miss most of April recovering from shoulder surgery, or Uggla, who has three years remaining on his contract.
Jair Jurrjens, RHP; Prado, INF; Eric O’Flaherty, LHP; Hanson, RHP; Paul Janish, SS; Jason Heyward, OF; Jonny Venters, LHP; Kris Medlen, RHP Peter Moylan.
The payroll for the 2013 season will once again sit around $94 million. Wren will have approximately $10 million left to fill his remaining needs this offseason.
ST. LOUIS — A year after arriving at the Winter Meetings under the glare of the national spotlight, the Cardinals will travel to Nashville, Tenn., for this week’s Winter Meetings with a much more modest list of goals.
Gone is the urgency of negotiating with a superstar. In its place is the much more manageable task of finding complementary pieces for a ballclub that is retaining most of its 2012 core. In particular, that means finding left-handed relief help, boosting the bench and fortifying the middle infield.
“It’s a far different landscape,” general manager John Mozeliak said, “than a year ago.”
The Cardinals’ offseason activity thus far has been mostly administrative, tweaking the 40-man roster and officially parting ways with the club’s only two free agents — Lance Berkman and Kyle Lohse. Aside from signing Rob Johnson to a Minor League deal, the Cards have not been involved in any signings.
There is little indication, too, that any additional impact additions are on the horizon, even though Mozeliak confirmed that conversations are ongoing regarding several players. With many key offseason transaction dates falling earlier this year due to changes made in last year’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the chance for a flurry of Winter Meetings activity is increased.
Finding a second lefty reliever to join Marc Rzepczynski in the bullpen will not be easy given the available list of free agents. With Jeremy Affeldt already off the board, remaining left-handed options include Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Michael Gonzalez, J.P. Howell, George Sherrill and Will Ohman. It’s a mostly underwhelming group through which to sift.
The weakness of the market could force the Cardinals into looking elsewhere to fill such a hole.
“I think we knew going in that the lefty relief market wasn’t a great place to be shopping, just in the sense that there’s not a lot out there,” Mozeliak said. “As we look at a lot of our options, it may come from a trade. [We are] still interested in finding one, though.”
With the organization confident in Rafael Furcal’s ongoing recovery from an elbow injury, the need to find another shortstop has diminished. As a result, the Cardinals can instead focus their efforts on finding an infielder who could play either middle-infield spot. This would increase the club’s depth at both positions.
“That’s still something that we’re kicking around,” Mozeliak said in regards to focusing attention in that area.
The Cardinals’ bench can be fortified without having to spend significant dollars. Adding a right-handed hitter with some power would be ideal given the makeup of the club’s current roster.
St. Louis has enough flexibility within its payroll to be able to add all such pieces, since no high-cost additions are needed. Though the club eliminated close to $24 million by letting go of Lohse and Berkman, it will take on a comparable amount of salary by accounting for raises due through other contract increases and the arbitration process.
In the end, the team’s payroll will likely total somewhere near the $110 million figure.
The Cardinals could very well spend four days at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville this week without making any sort of splash. But with baseball executives and agents all under one roof for several days, there will certainly be discussions and potential groundwork laid.
The Winter Meetings will close on Dec. 6 with the Rule 5 Draft. In order to select a player in that Draft, the Cardinals will have to keep a spot open on their 40-man roster. Currently, the club has 39 players on its roster.