HOUSTON – With Vince Young on the sidelines, the Tennessee Titans couldn’t finish drives. With the day Rob Bironas had, it didn’t matter.
Bironas kicked an NFL-record eight field goals, including the game-winner as time expired, to lead the Titans to a 38-36 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Backup Kerry Collins led the offense while Young missed playing in his hometown because of a strained quadriceps. Collins didn’t make many mistakes, but the offense couldn’t capitalize in the red zone, ushering Bironas into the record book.
The record-setting kick foiled a spirited comeback by the Texans (3-4), who scored 29 points in the fourth quarter, capped by a 53-yard touchdown pass from Sage Rosenfels to Andre’ Davis to take a 36-35 lead with 57 seconds to play.
The Titans (4-2) faced a third-and-10 at their 37 when Collins found Roydell Williams on a 46-yard pass that set up the winning kick.
Bironas said he didn’t realize he was closing in on the mark.
“I knew we’d hit quite a few, but I try not to count,” Bironas said. “I try not to know the distances when I go out there, so I’m always concentrating on making the same kick. I’ve never really counted. I’ll remember this one, though.”
Bironas’ last two field goals were from 29 yards and he connected from 52, 43, 25, 21, 30 and 28 yards to break the previous record of seven field goals held by Billy Cundiff, Chris Boniol, Rich Karlis and Jim Bakken.
He doubled his field goal total for the season Sunday after kicking eight field goals in the five previous games combined. When someone pointed out that he had five field goals by halftime, he found it strange.
“I was like: `I’ve almost kicked as many as we’ve kicked the whole season,”’ he said. “I’ll take them when we need them.”
Bironas also kicked two extra points and set the NFL record for most points by a kicker with 26. Cundiff’s 23 points on Sept. 15, 2003, was the previous high.
Young was active, but didn’t play and Collins got his first win as a starter in Tennessee after losing the first three games of last season. Coach Jeff Fisher said Young could have played if Collins had been injured, but that he wasn’t at “full speed.”
“I wasn’t going to play at all because I didn’t have any preparation or practicing,” Young said. “I really feel like I need to practice to play. I can’t just go out there and go off just off talent. That’s not the type of guy I am.”
Houston’s offense stalled throughout the first three quarters before the furious rally began with a 7-yard touchdown catch by David Anderson early in the fourth quarter. Before that 70-yard drive, the Texans had managed just 34 yards of offense. A two-point conversion by Davis made it 32-15.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak blamed the offensive woes on himself.
“I’m just very disappointed in this guy you’re looking at right here,” Kubiak said. “For us to go out there and play offensively that way for that long, there’s no excuse. That’s my job.”
Houston Starter Matt Schaub missed big chunks of the first half and the entire second half with ankle and hip injuries. Kubiak said Schaub would have an MRI on his hip but that X-rays on his ankle were negative.
Rosenfels accounted for four of Houston’s six turnovers by throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble in Schaub’s place.
“If we just convert on a couple of those turnovers that we got, deep in their territory and got touchdowns instead of field goals, we wouldn’t have been in the situation we were in at the end,” Collins said. “That’s obviously going to be a point of emphasis for us and one we need to keep working on.”
Rosenfels’ four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter tied an NFL record.
He finished 22 for 35 for 290 yards.