FRED FAOUR

Texans pick up eighth straight win, beat Titans thanks to a terrific running game

Deshaun Watson had a big game running the ball, as did the Texans. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Texans took another big step in the road to the AFC South title, knocking off Tennessee 34-17 on Monday Night Football. They simply just keep getting it done during an eight-game winning streak that has erased a brutal 0-3 start.

They got it done despite falling in a 10-0 hole early after giving up a 61-yard touchdown pass on a blown coverage.

They got it done primarily because they ran the ball 34 times for 281 yards, including 162 by Lamar Miller, who had a 97-yard burst in the first half.

They got it done because Deshaun Watson was very good both throwing and running the ball. He threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns to Demaryius Thomas on 19 of 24 passing and rushed for another 70 yards and a score. He did not turn the ball over, although he was ruled down by contact on a play that could easily have been a fumble.

They got it done despite a nice game by Marcus Mariota, who completed his first 19 passes and played really well. The Titans were slowed by offensive penalties and six sacks by the Texans, but Mariota was terrific and Tennessee would not have been in the game at all without him. He would finish 21 of 22 for 292 yards and two TDs.

They got it done thanks to Christian Covington (2.5 sacks), J.J. Watt (1.5 sacks), Whitney Mercilus (1.5 sacks) and Jadeveon Clowney (a half sack).

And the Texans got it done because there were two key plays early that went the Texans’ way. Down 10-0, Houston fumbled on a kickoff return, and a Titans player briefly jumped on the ball, but the Texans recovered. They marched down the field and cut the lead to 10-7.

In the second quarter, with the Texans up 14-10, the Titans went for a fourth and one at the Texans’ 3. The defense stuffed the play, and on the first snap after that, Miller broke off his 97-yard touchdown run.

The Texans ran the ball effectively the entire first half, putting up 200 yards, 148 from Miller. Those two plays were the difference in a half the Texans led 24-10. They were able to do just enough in the second half to close the game.

Now the Texans sit at 8-3, with the eight consecutive wins. They lead the AFC South by two games over Indianapolis, which has won five in a row and are 6-5. The Titans fell to 5-6.

It was not perfect. The Texans gave up some big plays in the passing game, and the offense struggled on third down. But it was a solid performance against a team that was desperate.

And the Texans got it done.

 

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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