Brawl overshadows Texans' shutout of Titans

Posted Nov. 28, 2010 @ 5:25 p.m.
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By Chris Duncan, AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON(AP) Andre Johnson finally had enough from Cortland Finnegan, sparking a fistfight for which both were ejected, and that could lead to further discipline from the NFL.

The Texans snapped a four-game losing streak while Johnson and Finnegan were ejected for an ugly two-man brawl in the fourth quarter of a 20-0 Houston win over Tennessee on Sunday.

Arian Foster rushed for 143 yards and caught nine passes for the Texans (5-6), who were on their way to their first shutout since 2004 when Johnson and Finnegan began slugging it out midway through the fourth quarter.

Finnegan set it off by pushing up Johnson's face mask at the line of scrimmage. Johnson ripped off Finnegan's helmet and landed at least two punches to Finnegan's head and neck. Finnegan tore off Johnson's helmet before players and referees intervened.

The game was halted for more than five minutes as officials sorted out the chaos. Johnson received a standing ovation as security guards escorted him off the field. Finnegan taunted booing fans as he exited out the opposite tunnel.

This was Round 2 between them. Last season, Johnson was fined $7,500 for taking Finnegan to the ground by the facemask during a scuffle after a play in a 34-31 Texans win.

The incident came at the end of a tumultuous week for the Titans (5-6), who've lost four in a row.

Houston cornerback Glover Quin set a franchise record with three interceptions off Titans rookie quarterback Rusty Smith, who struggled in his first career start.

Smith replaced Houston native Vince Young, who argued with Titans coach Jeff Fisher after he was taken out of last week's loss to Washington with a thumb injury. Young was placed on injured reserve and apologized to Fisher via text message. Young did not join his team for Sunday's game.

Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger was on the sideline calling plays after he was diagnosed with cancer this week. He's due to start chemotherapy Monday.

The drama with Young and Heimerdinger overshadowed the matchup of the two top rushers in the AFC, Foster and Chris Johnson. It was a mismatch: Foster set a Texans record with his sixth 100-yard game of the season, while Johnson managed a career-low 5 yards on seven carries.

The Texans, with the league's 31st-ranked defense, had not held an opponent to fewer than 24 points all season. They dominated from the start Sunday, limiting the Titans to 12 yards and no first downs in the first quarter.

Quin got his first career interception on the first play of the second quarter, a much-needed confidence boost for the second-year cornerback, Quin batted a last-second desperation pass into the hands of receiver Mike Thomas for the winning score in a 31-24 loss at Jacksonville two weeks ago.

Foster turned a short pass into a 16-yard gain, and Matt Schaub found tight end Joel Dreessen in the end zone on the next play for a 7-0 lead. Schaub completed 25 of 35 passes for 178 yards in the game.

Foster and backup Derrick Ward broke long runs on Houston's next series. Schaub found Andre Johnson on a crossing route in the end zone.

Houston held Tennessee to 4 yards rushing and two first downs in the first half. Smith completed five passes for 43 yards in the half against the NFL's worst pass defense.

Neil Rackers kicked a 36-yard field goal that bounced off the left upright for a 17-0 lead in the third quarter, and the Titans' offense was no better in the second half. Even with Tennessee got to the Houston 12 when safety Bernard Pollard was whistled for pass interference, Quin then intercepted Smith's pass to Justin Gage near the goal line.

Foster ran 37 yards down the sideline, and the Titans were flagged for a personal foul after the play, tacking on another 15 yards. A few plays later, the individual battle between Johnson and Finnegan boiled over.

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