TITANS 41, TEXANS 38

5 observations from the Texans' season-ending loss to the Titans

Texans lose to the Titans, 41-38. Photo by Getty Images

The Texans season came to a merciful end on Sunday in entertaining fashion, as they dropped a 41-38 decision to the playoff-bound Tennessee Titans. The year may be 2021, but it was typical 2020 Texans; Derrick Henry ran all over them once again, and they played hard but lost in dramatic fashion in the final 20 seconds. At least the Texans showed some heart and made the Titans work for it. Five observations from the season ender:

1) At lest we can stop waiting and look forward to new hires. The season is now officially over, and we can turn our attention to who might take over as head coach and GM. The lone bright spot of the season was the end of the Bill O'Brien era, which at least gives some hope. Now we will see if that hope will be fulfilled. It's a stretch to think the Texans will get these hires right, especially if Jack Easterby is involved at all, considering he signed off on the DeAndre Hopkins deal. But at least the wait is nearing its end. It will be a challenging off-season with no picks and a lot of bad contracts, but maybe the Texans get the GM hire right and a better coaching staff improves some of the underperformers. So at least there will be hope - at least until the hire is made.

2) There were some bright spots this season. Watson finished with a terrific statistical season, even though his team was not very good. With a better coaching staff next year, he should take another big step. He did not have much help. Brandin Cooks was solid, and Keke Coutee had a nice second half of the season and looks like a useful piece moving forward. Tight end Pharoah Brown was a pleasant surprise. We've mentioned Tyrell Adams and Keoin Crossen as bright spots on the defensive side late in the season. None of these guys are stars, but they should be useful pieces moving forward. The Texans don't have a lot of those.

3) Does it feel like there is no leadership other than the players? Someone in the front office should have stepped in and made Watson sit this game; an interim coach with no skin in the game wasn't going to do it. The Jack Easterby stories are a matter of lore, and Cal McNair remains mostly silent. This felt like a ship without a captain, and it hit the iceberg hard.

4) Speaking of leaders...it might have been J.J. Watt's final game as a Texan. It was sad to see, but the truth is the Texans should give him a chance to play somewhere he can win. He has been the greatest player in franchise history, and one of the best athletes to ever play in Houston. He is not what he was, but he can still be a big factor for a good team. It's unlikely the Texans will be that next year.

5) This defense has been bad for a while. Maybe the best news in the coaching change will be a total revamp of the defensive coaching staff. Romeo Crennel's defenses have not been good for a long time, no matter who was actually calling plays. It's time for a new system and a new voice. That alone won't do it; there is a LOT of work to be done. They will have to raid free agency since they have no premier draft picks. But it's been a hard watch for a long time, and Sunday was no exception, especially on the last drive.

The bottom line: Thankfully, this disaster is over. The bigger concern is will the Texans make the right hires? Will the O'Brien stench take years to wash away? They wasted a really good Deshaun Watson season. It was a pathetic effort all the way around, and one with very few positives, especially since they will not get a high draft pick. All in all, it was just a lost season.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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