Texans 24, Titans 21
Texans vs Titans 1: Good, bad and ugly
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:
-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.
-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.
-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.