The good, bad and ugly

Texans vs Titans Game 2: Observations on Sunday's 24-13 loss

DeAndre Hopkins played well again. Houstontexans.com

The Houston Texans played a good enough game to win, but unfortunately came up short 24-13 to the Tennessee Titans. The game was much closer than the final score indicated. A play or two here and there, and this could have easily have been their fifth win of the season.

The Good

- Deandre Hopkins is making his case for the top wide receiver in football. A stat line of 8 catches on 13 targets for 80 yards and no touchdowns doesn’t say much to most, but he was doubled the entire game when everyone knew the ball was coming his way.

-Tom Savage played a good game, relative to what we are used to seeing from him. He completed 31 of 49 pass attempts for 365 yards with one touchdown and one interception. While under constant pressure, he still managed to have the best game of his career. He made several throws that impressed me, but nothing impressed more than his heightened pocket presence as he didn’t revert to “Strip Sack Savage” as a friend has called him.

-Stephen Anderson stepped up big time. The undrafted second year player had 5 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. His biggest play of the game came on a 22 yard catch to convert a 4th and 19 that kept the team’s hopes alive down by a touchdown. With the tight end position being decimated by injury, it’s good to see someone stepping up to grab the brass ring.

The Bad

-Texans still have an issue covering tight ends. Delanie Walker had 5 catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. The Texans have had this problem since Vernon Davis ate them alive back in week seven of the 2009 with the San Francisco 49ers (7 catches for 93 yards and 3 touchdowns).

-The run game continues to disappoint. 22 rushes for 53 yards gave them a whopping 2.4 yards per carry average. The longest carry was by Lamar Miller on a 12 yard run off left tackle. For an offense that wishes to rely on the run, this can’t continue. This is their second game in a row averaging less than 3 yards per carry.

-Jeff Allen had three consecutive false start penalties on 4th & 4 that ended up in a 4th & 19. Normally playing right guard, Allen was at left tackle on those plays. He’s been an incredibly bad offensive lineman no matter where he has played.

The Ugly

- Injuries are to the Texans, as prostitutes are to Bissonnet. In this game alone, Jonathon Joseph, C.J. Fiedorowicz, and Bruce Ellington all left the game with various injuries today. Fiedorowicz, who suffered another concussion, is perhaps the most troubling. He has now had two this year and I believe it was the fourth of his career. After signing an extension this offseason and finally showing some of his potential, I would really hate to see his career derailed by concussions.

- Ka’imi Fairbairn missed 2 field goals today. The 48 yard miss hit the left upright and the 28 yard miss was shanked left. Fairbairn started the year 11/11, and is 6/10 since. He has a case of the yips that started with his first miss against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 5.

-The Texans had 11 penalties for 85 yards. When you’re already handicapped by injuries (pun intended), the worst thing you can do is throw flaming hot grits on an existing third degree burn by beating yourself. Playing disciplined football could’ve also helped avoid losing this game, backups and inexperienced players playing major roles be damned.

This was Savage’s best performance. Too bad it took him four years and eight career starts to put in a decent performance. This is something he and Bill O’Brien can hopefully build upon for the remaining four games of the season. This team at least looked like it fought back today versus a team that appears headed for a playoff berth. Having a chance to win games in a season considered lost is what people, especially fans, ultimately wants.

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Carlos Correa had a big home run Saturday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With four wins in a row, including the first two of this series, Houston had a chance to keep their momentum going to lock up a series win on Saturday in this four-game set. Although Texas would make it interesting late, the Astros would hold them off to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 5

Astros' Record: 23-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (1-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dane Dunning (2-3)

Action in the first

After getting trounced the night prior, the Rangers managed to grab early momentum with a run to start the scoring Saturday night against Luis Garcia. It came after a one-out triple set up a sac fly, giving Texas a 1-0 lead. Houston quickly took control back in their favor, though, putting up four in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman and a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, making it 4-1 Astros.

The scoreboard went quiet after that inning, with both teams slowing down at the plate. Garcia put together a decent night, allowing just the one run over five innings of work, erasing some runners throughout the night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Rangers tighten it up late

Bryan Abreu was the first reliever to enter for Houston, taking over for Garcia in the top of the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single, keeping it a three-run game, then returned for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Correa led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, setting up a two-run Kyle Tucker homer, extending his recent hot streak and the lead to 6-1.

Ryne Stanek took over on the mound for Houston in the top of the eighth but worked himself into trouble with a single and walk to set up a three-run homer by Joey Gallo to make it a two-run game at 6-4. He would manage just one out before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Brandon Bielak. Bielak would allow a run while getting the final two outs, making it 6-5.

Astros secure the series

After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Ryan Pressly would try to notch another save and close the door on the Rangers. He would get the job done, sitting the Rangers down in order, keeping Houston's winning streak intact.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game set will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Lance McCullers JR. (3-1, 3.10 ERA), fresh off of a recent gem, will look to continue his success for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.28) will try to stay perfect on the season for the Rangers.

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