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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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