Texans clinch the AFC South title

The good, bad and ugly of the Texans win over the Jags

DeAndre Hopkins arrived and made splash on and off the field. Zach Tarrant, Texans website

The Texans got the win they needed to secure the AFC South title 17-3 over the hapless Jags. Here's how I saw the last game of their regular season play out:

The Good

-DeAndre Hopkins was the Lone Ranger today yet again. However, it didn't stop him from gutting the Jags' secondary with 12 catches for 147 yards and a lot, if not all of those, came against Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey is widely regarded as one of the best cover guys in the game. Too bad for him Hopkins is better.

-J.J. Watt forced his seventh fumble in this game which puts him in first place in that category. He also recorded a half a sack to mark his fourth season with at least 15. Nobody with any good sense thought Watt would be back and play the way he has. If you did, you're most likely wearing Battle Red and Deep Steel Blue glasses so your vision in impaired by your fandom.

-The defense was smothering. So much so in fact, the Jags didn't gain a first down until five minutes into the second quarter. Whitney Mercilus even got in on the fun with a sack! All in all, the defense did what it was supposed to do against inferior competition.

The Bad

-Rookie safety Mike Tyson blocked D.J. Chark into DeAndre Carter as he called for a fair catch on a punt forcing the ball to bounce off of him and was recovered by the Jags on the Texans 10 yard line. This led to a field goal for the Jags. Mistakes like this can cost you playoff games.

-Deshaun Watson got sacked in the first half by Yannick Ngakoue. But it was the fact that he was being blocked by Ryan Griffin and Lamar Miller that ticked me off. Why in the world would you try to block a pass rusher like Ngakoue with a running back and tight end? Again, these are things that can cost you a playoff game, or your quarterback's health.

-Speaking of Watson getting sacked, it happened six times in the game! We all know the Jags are an aggressively tough and physical defense. Why take unnecessary chances when you're going to the playoffs?

The Ugly

-Another baffling decision was the very un-Bill O'Brien-like aggressive play calling at the end of the game. There were far too many pass plays; too many times Watson had runs called for him, and not enough conservative clock running.

-In the first quarter, Watson had a touchdown run overturned. He appeared to have landed on a Jag defender and reached the ball across the plane on a tremendous second effort. The refs saw it differently. They settled for a field goal after a false start on a fourth down attempt. Again, costly move that can mean the difference in a tight playoff game.

-When your quarterback was again your leading rusher, it spells trouble moving forward. Watson can't continue to be relied upon to carry the load as far as the rushing attack is concerned. Why was D'Onta Foreman inactive?

The team won its 11

th game of the season, the most under the O'Brien era. Potential playoff matchups loom against teams like the Steelers and Colts, and it scares the crap out of me. If those teams with those quarterback-receiver-tight end combos don't scare you, you're either not human or are wearing those aforementioned team-colored glasses. Either way, let's enjoy the ride, no matter how long it lasts. Worst to first with a promising future is a position I like for this team.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

McCullers Jr. had nine strikeouts over four

McCullers Jr. looks sharp in tune-up before Rangers overpower Houston's bullpen

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite watching their chance to clinch their playoff spot on the field slip away in the walk-off loss on Friday, the Astros benefited from a loss by the Angels later in the night, securing their playoff berth. That meant they could play conservatively in the final two games of the season against the Rangers in Arlington. Here's a quick rundown of Saturday's matchup:

Final Score: Rangers 6, Astros 1.

Record: 29-30, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jimmy Herget (1-0, 3.20 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brandon Bielak (3-3, 6.75 ERA).

McCullers Jr. looks playoff-ready 

With nothing substantial to play for, the Astros did not expect to ask Lance McCullers Jr. to go deep into Saturday's game, instead giving him a few innings for a tune-up before assuming whatever role he would play in the post-season. He looked impressive, a promising sign after his injury stint and struggles on the road at points this season.

He finished four innings, during which he racked up a season-high nine strikeouts while giving up no runs on just two hits, both singles, and two walks. His final line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0 HR, 61 P.

Both teams trade runs as  they go to their bullpens

Meanwhile, neither team was getting much going at the plate in the early goings, keeping it a scoreless game through the first five. Brandon Bielak took over for McCullers Jr. starting in the fifth but would allow the first run of the night in the bottom of the sixth as the Rangers would get three singles to take a 1-0 lead.

After Kyle Gibson held the Astros at bay for six innings, Houston would get on the board against Texas' bullpen, getting a leadoff double by Aledmyz Diaz in the top of the seventh. Diaz moved to third on a sac bunt, then scored on a sac fly by Jack Mayfield, making it 1-1.

Rangers blow it open in the seventh

The tie didn't last long, as Bielak would put two on base in the bottom of the seventh before giving up a three-run homer to make it a 4-1 Rangers lead. Andre Scrubb was next out of Houston's bullpen and allowed a solo home run on his first pitch. Scrubb would complete the inning, but not before allowing another run on three singles to push Texas' lead to 6-1.

Cy Sneed was next out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth and tossed a scoreless frame with two strikeouts. Houston would not make the unlikely comeback in the top of the ninth, with the Rangers taking the game 6-1.

Up Next: The last game of the Astros' 2020 regular season will be Sunday at 2:05 PM Central, as are most other games on the MLB slate on the league's final regular-season day. Houston's starter is TBD as they will continue to preserve their arms for the best-of-three first round that starts on Tuesday, while Texas will send Jordan Lyles (1-6, 7.08 ERA) to the mound.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome