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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Houston's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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