Titans 35, Texans 14

Texans vs Titans 2: Good, bad and ugly

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The Texans came into this game without much to play for, and it showed. They lost their final home game of the season 35-14 to their division rival Titans and allowed them to make the playoffs. Here are my observations:

The Good

-The Texans picked a strange time to score a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time this season. With backup quarterback A.J. McCarron starting, they capped a 15-play 75-yard drive that took 7:35 off the clock with Duke Johnson 1 yard touchdown run. McCarron was 4/7 for 50 yards on the drive and looked pretty comfortable.

-Speaking of McCarron, he played a pretty good game all things considered. He turned the ball over once on a great interception made by Kevin Bayard and looked to have a good command on the offense. He even showed off some scrambling ability running three times for 18 yards, especially on his long of 13 which gained a first down. He looked like he could be counted upon should the unthinkable happen.

-Penalties have been an issue all year long for this team. However, they only had five penalties for 35 yards against the Titans. While it was mainly a JV squad out there playing, this was still impressive considering this team's penchant for the refs' yellow flags.

The Bad

-As good as the offense looked on the opening drive, the defense said "hold my beer" and took a 180 degree turn from the offense. They proceeded to give up a 3rd&5 conversion that turned into a 51-yard touchdown by A.J. Brown. Again, the same poor tackling afflicted them on that play as it has on most big plays this season. Great way to lose momentum guys.

-By halftime, the defense had given up 214 total yards and were down 14-7. They looked inept and it appeared as though the game was going to get out of hand at any given moment. Too many plays of 10 yards or more were given up in the 1st half.

-The pass rush failed to register a sack this game. I get that the Titans were more run heavy this game, but to not get a sack at all or even get close to pressuring the quarterback consistently enough in 21 pass attempts is ridiculous. J.J. Watt coming back in time for the playoff game next week should help and will be much needed.

The Ugly

-With 25 seconds left before halftime, two timeouts and down 14-7, McCarron scrambled to the Texans' 42 yard line and was hit late as he slid. There was no flag thrown for unnecessary roughness as there clearly should've been. That 15 yard penalty would've put them on the Titans' 43 yard line and would've had the Texans a few yards away from field goal range with 19 seconds left and still two timeouts. What happened to protecting quarterbacks? Guess that only goes for starters/stars.

-The run defense looked vacation ready instead of playoff ready. I don't care that some main guys were sitting down! Run defense is about reading, reacting, tackling, and hustle. This defense showed very little to none of that giving up 247 yards rushing on 36 carries for a 6.9 average. Too many long runs and too many missed tackles.

-How do you win the time of possession battle, limit your penalties, only turn the ball over once, and still manage to lose by 21 points? By giving up big plays, especially in the run game, and not coming to play. That's how. Too often in this game the Texans failed to execute, and that goes for both sides of the ball.

When the Chiefs won their game earlier in the day, it gave the Texans little to play for against the Titans. Bill O'Brien already made the decision not to play Deshaun Watson and several others. I was of the opinion that this team isn't good enough to sit guys and that they should all play a half or so. I understand given their playoff seeding there was no need to risk it, but I'd much rather see them get some work in. Regardless, this was good to see McCarron look competent in case he's ever called upon. It was also good to see guys like Keke Coutee and DeAndre Carter get work at receiver considering Will Fuller's questionable health. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to see more than one Texans playoff game this year. Buyer beware: the Bills are not to be taken lightly! That's a hard-hitting football team that will punch you in the mouth on both sides of the ball.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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