Titans 35, Texans 14
Texans vs Titans 2: Good, bad and ugly
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 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.
-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.
-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.