Broncos 38, Texans 24

Shame bells all around for Texans in brutal loss to Broncos

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Sunday's game against the Broncos had all the look of a trap game for the Texans. Coming off a huge win over New England and with the Titans up next, it would have been easy to overlook Denver. It's an act we have seen before with these Texans. Not only was the trap sprung, the Texans were embarrassed by a bad football team, getting beat 38-24. Rest assured, the game was not nearly that close. They deserve shame bells all around. Here is how it all played out:

Offense

Positives: They scored 21 garbage time points!

Negatives: They could not have started any worse. They have scored 3 points in 13 first possessions this year. They not only failed to score on their first drive, they gave up a defensive touchdown on their second to put them in a 14-0 hole. Keke Coutee fumbled after a catch, and the Broncos returned it for a touchdown. They could do nothing for the rest of the half. They went for it on fourth and 1 at their own 34 with two minutes left in the first half, and failed thanks to a terrible play call. It led to another Broncos score and an insurmountable 31-3 halftime deficit. Deshaun Watson was ineffective until garbage time. His numbers at the end would look OK, but it was textbook empty stats.

Defense

Positives: Zach Cunningham had 17 total tackles.

Negatives: Like the offense, they started terribly, giving up a touchdown on the opening drive, and things got worse from there. Jonathan Joseph allowed a huge gain on the first play making a poor decision to try to intercept the football. They let Drew Lock march down the field on the Broncos first four offensive drives. The Texans got no pressure and were awful in coverage, giving up 24 first half points to a struggling offense. They of course got defensive holding penalties on the last drive of the half, and did not stop the Broncos once in the first half, and they started out the second half just as badly. It was just a terrible performance across the board. The Broncos had not scored more than 24 points all season. They had 31 in the first half alone. The Texans gave up 309 yards passing to Lock and did not get a stop until 2:37 remained in the third quarter when Tashaun Gipson picked off Lock inside the Texans 5 yard line.

The bottom line

A week after their best win of the season, the Texans followed it up with perhaps their worst performance yet. The Baltimore loss was one thing; the Ravens are the best team in the AFC. The Broncos are a losing team with a rookie quarterback, and they dominated the game. The good news is the Texans tend to bounce back from awful efforts like this one, and they have the Titans in a key AFC South battle next week. The bad news? They still have awful efforts like this. The coaching was bad, Watson was not good when it mattered, the defense was a joke. There was literally nothing positive to take from this game. Other than that...

The Texans fall to 8-5. They can still win the AFC South or earn a wild card spot, but after a performance like this, it is hard to see them being much of a postseason threat.

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McCullers Jr. had nine strikeouts over four

McCullers Jr. looks sharp in tune-up before Rangers overpower Houston's bullpen

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite watching their chance to clinch their playoff spot on the field slip away in the walk-off loss on Friday, the Astros benefited from a loss by the Angels later in the night, securing their playoff berth. That meant they could play conservatively in the final two games of the season against the Rangers in Arlington. Here's a quick rundown of Saturday's matchup:

Final Score: Rangers 6, Astros 1.

Record: 29-30, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jimmy Herget (1-0, 3.20 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brandon Bielak (3-3, 6.75 ERA).

McCullers Jr. looks playoff-ready 

With nothing substantial to play for, the Astros did not expect to ask Lance McCullers Jr. to go deep into Saturday's game, instead giving him a few innings for a tune-up before assuming whatever role he would play in the post-season. He looked impressive, a promising sign after his injury stint and struggles on the road at points this season.

He finished four innings, during which he racked up a season-high nine strikeouts while giving up no runs on just two hits, both singles, and two walks. His final line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0 HR, 61 P.

Both teams trade runs as  they go to their bullpens

Meanwhile, neither team was getting much going at the plate in the early goings, keeping it a scoreless game through the first five. Brandon Bielak took over for McCullers Jr. starting in the fifth but would allow the first run of the night in the bottom of the sixth as the Rangers would get three singles to take a 1-0 lead.

After Kyle Gibson held the Astros at bay for six innings, Houston would get on the board against Texas' bullpen, getting a leadoff double by Aledmyz Diaz in the top of the seventh. Diaz moved to third on a sac bunt, then scored on a sac fly by Jack Mayfield, making it 1-1.

Rangers blow it open in the seventh

The tie didn't last long, as Bielak would put two on base in the bottom of the seventh before giving up a three-run homer to make it a 4-1 Rangers lead. Andre Scrubb was next out of Houston's bullpen and allowed a solo home run on his first pitch. Scrubb would complete the inning, but not before allowing another run on three singles to push Texas' lead to 6-1.

Cy Sneed was next out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth and tossed a scoreless frame with two strikeouts. Houston would not make the unlikely comeback in the top of the ninth, with the Rangers taking the game 6-1.

Up Next: The last game of the Astros' 2020 regular season will be Sunday at 2:05 PM Central, as are most other games on the MLB slate on the league's final regular-season day. Houston's starter is TBD as they will continue to preserve their arms for the best-of-three first round that starts on Tuesday, while Texas will send Jordan Lyles (1-6, 7.08 ERA) to the mound.

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