Texans 24, Titans 21

Texans vs Titans 1: Good, bad and ugly

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In the first of a two out of three stretch for these two teams to decide the potential AFC South winner, the Texans were victorious over the red hot Titans. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Deshaun Watson and his receivers showed what they can do against a good defense. DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Kenny Stills all played valuable parts in the pass game. While Hopkins and Fuller did most of the heavy lifting, Stills was the one that caught the two touchdown passes. When all are healthy, this offense is fun to watch.

-Carlos Hyde has been a godsend for this offense at times this season. He's the perfect back for this system: big, strong, enough speed to make outside runs, and durable. With his 10 yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter, he got to 1,008 yards on the season. He's earned himself another contract, but will the Texans be the ones who give it to him?

-Whitney Mercilus made an appearence today! He managed to catch an interception off a bobbled pass when the Titans had the ball first and goal on the five yard line. Not only did he make the heads up play, he returned it 86 yards to the Titan 12 yard line. This led to a Watson to Stills touchdown hookup.

The Bad

-In the first half the Titans averaged 5.9 yards per play (7.5 per pass and 4.3 per run). Had they not come up with that tipped pick and a blocked field goal, the defense would've looked much worse to start the game. They followed that up by giving up a 15 play 76 yard touchdown drive that took up 9:26 of the 3rd quarter on Titans' opening possession of the second half.

-With 3:39 left in the game on third and goal from the six, the Titans out of timeouts, and the team up 21-14, Bill O'Brien decided to call a pass play. Watson couldn't find anyone open and ended up throwing the ball away and stopping the clock. Anybody with half a brain knew what was coming with Duke Johnson in the game instead of Hyde. That should've been a run to keep the clock going. Luckily Ka'imi Fairbairn made the kick to give them a 24-14 lead. Another example of poor play-calling and clock management by O'Brien.

-Tony Romo botched Charles Omenihu's name three different ways during the Titans' goal line push towqards their first touchdown. As good as Romo is, and considering he's working with the pro of all pros Jim Nantz (who ended up correcting him), this shouldn't happen. I know for a fact there are pronunciations of names on media guides readily available. This is a nitpick/pet peeve of mine because I can't stand when it happens to me.

The Ugly

-Texans have only scored three points on their opening possessions this year. It continued in this game as they were within field goal range when Watson threw a pick thinking Duke Johnson was open in the end zone. Titans' defense was disguised as man, then switched to cover two after the snap and baited Watson into the poor throw.

-Speaking of poor throws, Watson threw another pick, this time it was off a tipped pass when he tried to gun it in there on the five yard line with goal to go. There was far too much traffic in the middle of the field for Watson to attempt that pass. Making the right throw is part of his maturation process, but plays like this take points off the board. Doing it twice in one game can prove fatal to your chances at winning.

-Lack of a pass rush is frustrating. Ryan Tannehill had time to pack a picnic lunch, lay out a blanket, eat a sandwich, feed his wife grapes, and still had time left over to complete passes. There was even time for him in the pocket even when the Texans' blitzed. It took 51 minutes before they recorded a sack of Tannehill!

Coming off the heels of what could be argued as the worst loss of the O'Brien era, or Texans history, the Texans faced on of the hottest teams in the league. They managed to keep their L-W-W pattern alive despite almost tripping themselves. On of the better moves O'Brien made was pulling Chris Clark and inserting Roderick Johnson at right tackle early on in the game. He also made several questionable calls as well. This game wasn't as close as the score indicated in my opinion. The Titans got two turnovers from the Texans in scoring position and a couple big plays that lead to scores. If the Texans can stop shooting themselves, they might actually have a shot at making a run in the playoffs. The Bucs and their vertical passing attack present more of a test for their beleaguered secondary and invisible pass rush.

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Houston gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

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