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NFL

Titans clinch bye in return to hostile Houston

©Associated Press
December 30, 2002

HOUSTON -- Though it has been six years since owner Bud Adams moved the Oilers to Tennessee, fans haven't forgotten.

Tailgaters mocked Adams outside Reliant Stadium before Sunday's game between Houston's old team and its new one. The old Oilers, now the Titans, blocked a punt and field goal and Eddie George scored the game's only touchdown with 5:14 left as they beat the Texans 13-3.

The Titans, already the AFC South champs, gained a first-round bye with their 10th win in 11 games.

The Texans closed their first season with three straight losses.

Adams visited both locker rooms after the game.

"It's a business and we had to win this game to be the second seed in the American Football Conference," Adams said. "Outside of that, I love the Texans."

A record crowd of 70,694 booed the Titans as they came on the field to play in Houston for the first time since moving to Tennessee after the 1996 season.

George scored on a 4-yard run and had 102 yards on 25 carries. McNair was 8-of-22 for 148 yards.

"We felt like it could be a field position game and we made the plays at the end of the game," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "Any time you win 10 of 11 games there will be some like this, and we'll take this.

"Our philosophy wasn't to keep it close offensively. Their defense did that."

The Titans led 6-3 on Joe Nedney's first-half field goals of 28 and 26 yards. They put together the only touchdown drive that was kept alive by a 53-yard pass from Steve McNair to Drew Bennett to the Texans 18.

The Titans scratched out a 6-0 halftime lead on the field goals, though Tennessee was outgained 159-115.

McNair's 36-yard pass to Justin McCareins helped set up Nedney's 28-yarder for a 3-0 first-quarter lead.

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