HOUSTON (Oct. 9) -- Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher wanted to see his young team execute. On Sunday he got his wish and a nice bonus: his 100th career victory.
Steve McNair threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another to lead the NFL's youngest team to a 34-20 win over the hapless Houston Texans.
"I'm not thinking about that," Fisher said, downplaying his milestone. "This is number two that's what this is all about -- getting a second win. We're not stopping here. We've got a lot to go."
The performance gave McNair more than 25,000 career yards passing. He is the second player in franchise history and the 49th player to reach the mark. Warren Moon became the first when the team was still in Houston.
The Titans didn't have any turnovers in a much better outing than last week's 31-10 loss to Indianapolis, thought it was against a much less formidable opponent. Rob Bironas kicked a 52-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 49-yarder in the fourth after missing a 38-yard attempt against the Colts.
The Texans continued their downward spiral, converting none of their 13 third downs and managing just one touchdown. They are the only winless team in the league and are 0-4 for the first time in their short history.
Tennessee's defense came in with stopping Houston on third down as a priority.
"It probably killed a little momentum for them at times," said Titans defensive end Antwan Odom. "Anytime you can control a team like that on third down it says a lot about your team."
Tennessee (2-3) led 10-9 early in the third quarter when McNair found Drew Bennett on a 41-yard pass to reach the 25,000-yard mark and get the Titans to the Houston 17.
Two plays later Jarrett Payton, son of the late Walter Payton and in just his second game after being elevated from the practice squad, bulled in from 5 yards for his first career touchdown. He filled the spot left open by Travis Henry 's four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Payton finished with eight carries for 11 yards.
"Whatever they ask me to do I'm ready and willing," Payton said. "It's always big team, little me. I'm just going to keep that motto through and through."
The Titans got the ball back after a sack by AFC sacks leader Kyle Vanden Bosch forced Houston to punt. McNair led them on a 58-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Bennett to stretch the lead to 24-9. Bennett had five receptions for 99 yards.
Early on, it looked as if the Titans would again be foiled by mistakes and costly penalties. On their first drive, a 3-yard touchdown run by Chris Brown was brought back for holding. But they were able to rebound and McNair found Ben Troupe on a 10-yard pass for an early 7-0 lead.
"We overcame some things in that drive," Fisher said. "(It was) big because it helped to take the crowd out of the game."
David Carr went 18 of 27 for 131 yards with an interception that Tennessee converted into a field goal in the fourth quarter. He was sacked seven times, bringing his season total to 27.
"You want more than anything else to win a football game," Carr said. "Just one. We can't go much lower than this."
Kris Brown kicked four field goals for Houston. Carr threw a largely irrelevant 3-yard touchdown pass to Corey Bradford with 3:12 remaining.
The fans roundly booed the team beginning in the second quarter and most were gone by the beginning of the fourth. The only time the crowd got lively was in the second half, when an update of the Houston Astros' playoff game against the Atlanta Braves was announced. Fans stood up and cheered and then a chorus of "Let's go Astros" could be heard in the cavernous stadium.
Notes: Just before halftime the Titans attempted the seldom used fair catch kick. NFL supervisor of officials Ron Baynes said it's the first time he's seen that type of field goal attempt, where the ball is kicked like a kickoff, in 20 years of officiating. The attempt failed. ... Johnson left the game before catching a pass which broke his streak of receptions in each of his 35 career games. ...Texans running back Domanick Davis became the first Houston running back to gain more than 100 yards this season and finished with 130.