The Titans (12-5), who secured their second consecutive South Division title in the American Conference last week, they now have the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the third time since leaving Houston in 1997 and the first since 2008. They also have a first round of playoffs free.
The victory was determined by four touchdown passes from Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter to put the Titans up 21-0 at half time. But the Texans (4-13) came to life in the second half, scoring 18 unanswered points to get close to three before Julio Jones caught his first touchdown pass of the season on a 3-yard pass that made the score 28- 18 with about seven minutes.
Houston cut the lead to three again when Danny Amendola’s second touchdown reception of the game brought the score closer to 28-25 with 4½ minutes to go.
However, Tennessee then knew how to exhaust the clock at the end of the fourth quarter to ensure victory.
On Sunday, Tannehill completed 23 of 32 passes for 287 yards, while his counterpart from Houston Davis Mills threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns for 2,604 yards passing this season and surpassing David Carr (2,592) with the most rookie yards passing in franchise history.
For his part, Amendola had seven receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns in his first game since Nov. 28.
– Brady with personal brand –
In Tampa, star Tom Brady, winner of seven Super Bowl, surpassed 5,000 yards through the air for the second time in his career and the local Buccaneers set a franchise record for wins in the regular season with a 41-17 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Brady completed 29 of 37 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns before resting in the final half of the fourth quarter, finishing with a career-best 5,316 passing yards and a record 43 TD passes for the defending champions in a single season.
Wide receiver Mike Evans caught two of the touchdown passes from Brady, which gave him a club-record 14 touchdown receptions this year. He also became the first player in NFL history to start a career with eight consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards.
Tampa Bay (13-4) broke the club’s record for victories in a regular season set in 2002 and also managed to be the second seed in the National Conference. The Bucs host the Philadelphia Eagles next week.
For her part, Carolina (5-12) ended a seven-game losing streak that casts head coach Matt Rhule’s future in doubt.
– Sunday’s NFL results:
Detroit a Green Bay 37-30
Jacksonville a Indianápolis 26-11
Washington a NY Giants 22-7
Minnesota a Chicago 31-17
Tennessee a Houston 28-25
Pittsburgh a Baltimore 16-13
Cleveland a Cincinnati 21-16
Tampa Bay a Carolina 41-17
Miami a New England 33-24
New Orleans a Atlanta 30-20
Buffalo a NY Jets 27-10
San Francisco a LA Rams 27-24
Seattle a Arizona 38-30
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Titans secure lead in NFL AL and Tom Brady equals personal best