TITANS 20, TEXANS 17

Special team blunders and rusty offense lead to another Texans loss

DeAndre Hopkins caught a touchdown pass. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Texans stuck with their game plan, shook off more early season rust, but still fell to the Titans 20-17 on the road. Play wasn’t good early, and the Titans looked like they were going walk all over their divisional opponent. But once again, a steady defensive effort kept the game manageable, and it came down to a final drive for Houston that ended with Deshaun Watson completing a meaningless pass over the middle after wasting precious seconds scrambling while time ran out.

The Texans defense came out firing hard against a Derrick Henry led rushing attack. The secondary got a new look because starting cornerback Kevin Johnson was added to injured reserve this past week. The change put Kareem Jackson back at cornerback and gave rookie Justin Reid his first career start at safety. J.J. Watt was getting into the backfield early and often and an injury to Christian Covington earned another rookie, Duke Ejiofor, his first start and his first career sack.

The first quarter was forgettable for Houston. The offense looked like it was repeating the same effort it gave in last week’s loss to New England. Missed passes and missed field goals left a lot of worry about how they could get back in the game after the Titans jumped out to an early 14-0 lead after just two possessions. The first of those scores coming on a 66-yard fake punt throw from safety Kevin Byard to fellow defensive back Dane Cruikshank. They would get another one on the following drive after missed tackles in the secondary led to an 18-yard touchdown by wide receiver Taywan Taylor.

Houston settled down and went to work behind another solid effort from the running game. Lamar Miller kept the ball moving with 14 carries for 68 yards, Watson added 44 yards, while Alfred Blue turned in another 36 yards of his own. Houston aired it out plenty while a close game was playing out. Watson finished with 310 yards on 22 of 32 passing with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.

After missing last week with injury, Will Fuller was the leader in receptions. He hauled in 8 passes for 113 yards and 1 touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins had a solid game too. He caught 6 balls for 110 yards and a touchdown of his own.

Hopkins caught the first Texans score with just under a minute to play in the first half to cut the score to 14-7. Houston kept momentum in their favor to start the second half and on consecutive drives to end the third quarter and start the fourth they took the lead consecutive scores. The first was a Ka’imi Fairbairn 34-yard field goal and the second was Fuller’s 39-yard diving touchdown over cornerback Malcom Butler.

The Titans leaned heavy on the running game while their starting quarterback Marcus Mariota was sidelined by an elbow injury. Tennessee ran the ball 34 times for 100 yards while they only threw it 22 times and were held to just 183 yards (quarterback Blaine Gabbert was held to just 117 yards). They spent most of the game living off their early success, trying hard to keep Houston from coming back in the game.

After the score became knotted at 17 in the fourth quarter the play slowed and became a grind it to victory effort. The defense allowed the Titans to march 62 yards in 5 minutes and 36 seconds on their final drive to take the lead on a 31-yard field goal.

 

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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