TEXANS 34, TITANS 17

The Texans made a prime-time statement in 34-17 victory

The Texans defense sacked Marcus Mariota six times. Tim Warner/Getty Images

After a three-and-out to start the game, the Texans put their foot on the gas and ran all over the Titans in prime-time for a 34-17 home victory less than a week after owner Robert C. McNair passed away. They have reeled off eight consecutive victories and notched a crucial divisional win in a tight AFC playoff race.

Tonight’s victory was the kind of team win Houston needed heading into the final stretch of the season. Offensively, they ran the ball exceptionally well against a Titans defense that was averaging 3.9 yards per rush coming into the game, finishing the night with 282 yards. Lamar Miller exploded to the tune of 162 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries, 97 of them coming on a touchdown run in the second quarter. It was Houston’s third consecutive touchdown drive, giving them 21 unanswered points after Tennessee took a 10-0 lead in the 1st quarter.

He wasn’t the only one to have a big night on the ground. Deshaun Watson ran the ball nine times for 70 yards and a touchdown, including a big 34-yard run in the 4th quarter that led to his second passing touchdown. He also had a great night throwing the ball, finishing with a 130.9 passer rating on 19-of-24 for 210 yards and two touchdown passes. He spread the ball around to nine different receivers, with DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas getting the most receptions.

Thomas scored his first two touchdowns in a Texans uniform to go along with his four catches for 38 yards. Hopkins continues to be Watson’s favorite target, finishing with five receptions for 74-yards. He now has 73 catches for 1,024 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

Not to be outdone, the Texans defense made sure that when Houston got the lead they never relinquished it. They were unable to force any turnovers until a fumble with thirty seconds left in the game; but they sacked Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota six times for minus 43 yards, disrupting any rhythm he thought he had. Mariota did have some big plays in the passing game - his two touchdowns were 61 yards and 48 yards - but only threw for 195 yards otherwise.

The biggest sequence in the game happened in the second quarter. With Houston leading only 14-10 the Titans drove down to the Houston 3-yard line. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel chose to go for it on 4th-and-1 and handed the ball to tight end Luke Stocker for no gain and a turnover on downs. The very next play was Miller’s long touchdown and the momentum swung fully toward the Texans for the rest of the game.

This was a statement win for Houston as they maintain a two-game lead in the division against the surging Indianapolis Colts. Their 8-3 record currently places them in the third seed with a Week 14 home game against the Colts as their only matchup against an opponent with a winning record.

 

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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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