FRED FAOUR

5 reasons the Texans lost to the Tennessee Titans

Deshaun Watson was up and down. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Texans dropped to 0-2 with a 20-17 road loss against a Tennessee Titans team missing its quarterback, stud left tackle and tight end and led by a first-year coach. A division road loss on top of that. The Texans got in a hole early by giving up a free touchdown on a fake punt where they were completely caught off guard. They battled back to take a 17-14 lead, but the defense gave way late - much like last season's 4-12 disaster - and the Texans find themselves in a tough position. So why did they lose this one?

1) Being unprepared

After the quick touchdown on the fake punt, the Titans put together a nice drive and some missed tackles led to a second touchdown and a 14-0 lead on two possessions. The Texans simply looked like they had no idea what the Titans were going to do. That is on coaching and game planning. They adjusted, but the big hole left little margin for error, and they had more errors...

2) Up and down Watson

Deshaun Watson got off to a very slow start. He also nearly fumbled another ball. He also cost the team points with an ill-advised interception in the end zone. He also made a terrible decision on the last play with ball to the middle of the field that left the team with no time. When he was good, however, he showed flashes of last year's Watson, completely 22 of 32 for 310 yards, two TDs and he also rushed for another 44 yards on 5 carries. 

3) Flag day

Costly penalties hit the Texans at every turn. They had 11 for 88 yards, many costing them on big plays. It was sloppy, awful football at the wrong times. 

4) Not an elite defense

The Texans defensive numbers look good on paper, and they were terrific in the third quarter. But they gave up two drives late to lose the lead and did not force a turnover. If the Texans are going to win, they need some playmaking from the defense. They did not get it, even against a below average quarterback in Blaine Gabbert. It proved costly.

5) Special teams woes - again

Remember all those things the Texans did to improve the special teams? Besides the botched punt coverage, they missed a 54-yard field goal, which led them to pass on another one late in the game that could have at least forced overtime. That's minus-9 points on special teams. 

There were some positives - the Texans had more yards, first downs and averaged two more yards per play than the Titans. They ran the ball very well, with 148 yards, averaging 5.7 per carry. Those are numbers that will win most football games. 

But not when you do the five things listed above. And that's how you wind up 0-2.

 

 

 

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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