For as intense as last Sunday was in Indianapolis, this Sunday afternoon held little to no drama. Well, other than what was transpiring in Miami. On the last Titans drive of the day, Marc and Andre were describing the action in Nashville AND Miami. At some point, I got confused with which game I was more invested. Either way, the result was what we wanted in Nashville but not down in Miami. I'll make sure to finish this with any and all win/lose playoff scenarios but let me hit you with some observations, Music City style.
- I didn't even see Antonio Andrews' fumble to start the game. I had locked in on Jadeveon Clowney getting held and saw the ref throw the flag. So as soon as he threw it, I knew whatever happened…oh man, the ball popped out. Before I knew it, Quintin Demps picked up the rock on one hop and had nothing but green grass and an end zone in front of him.
- I always worry about getting an early lead on a team that you're better than. I've been in that position in the past and it nearly cost my team a game. Luckily, that wasn't the case. Far from it. Demps' touchdown was the kindling to set the fire ablaze.
- Brandon Weeden got his first win as a starting quarterback since December 2012. Three full calendar years, four seasons and the man finally got a much-deserved victory. He started a handful of games in Dallas this season but without Dez Bryant, running backs and other injuries, he wasn't able to get a W. All that stood in his way in Houston was the fact that he's only been here about six weeks. That said, his performance in the win over Indianapolis was a precursor of things to come, not a lucky squirrel finding a nut situation.
- One thing I remember most about Weeden in his days at Oklahoma State was how tough he was to stop or figure out when he got in rhythm. When he came out of the locker room for the second half, he found that rhythm in a hurry.
-- Completion to Nate Washington on the deep comeback.
-- Changed his arm slot on a completion to DeAndre Hopkins for a first down.
-- Flip to C.J. Fiedorowicz for six yards.
-- A dart to Hopkins for another 19 yards
-- A dime to Hopkins for a touchdown.
- On the throw to Hopkins, it wasn't so much that his arm slot changed as much as he changed the release point. He got a defender in his face and he knew he had Hopkins open across the middle. So, he got up on his toes, almost like a pitcher would on a curve ball, and threw directly over the top and completed the throw to Hopkins.
- Hopkins is just ridiculous. 104 catches, 1,432 yards and 11 TDs. A Pro Bowl nod. One play before that touchdown catch from Weeden that made it 24-0, Titans corner Coty Sensabaugh was initially flagged for pass interference by the back judge. But, the line judge and side judge overruled the call and the flag was picked up. No worries, though, Weeden fired a better throw to Hopkins one play later the former Clemson star snatched out of the air.
- Quoting Jason Bateman in Dodgeball...Weeden's scramble at the end of the first half to give the Texans 17-0 was "a bold strategy, Cotton, let's see how it works out" moment. When he took off with the pill, I couldn't help but think back to the scramble that he had earlier in the game. On that one earlier in the game, he actually had Jaelen Strong open, wide open, but Weeden had already decided to run prior to Strong breaking free. Weeden was corralled well short of the end zone and took a hard shot in the process. But, that didn't deter him from taking off yet again. On that second scramble, though, he made it to the pylon for a key touchdown before the end of the first half.
- Sunday was the exact reason why I say often that sacks don't matter as much as some fans/fantasy players want to believe. The Texans hounded Titans Zach Mettenberger all day long. When the game was still in doubt or competitive, he often threw the ball before his receivers were ready because he had pressure in his face. He hurriedly made a throw down the far sideline, launching it off his back foot but...there wasn't a Texan pass rusher near him. Suffice to say, the hits he took earlier in the game took a toll. John Simon hit Mettenberger numerous times, three times to be exact. The Texans registered eight quarterback hits, even though they only tacked on one sack.
- That one sack, though, came courtesy of J.J. Watt. There's been so much discussion, locally and nationally, that Watt wasn't the same since breaking his hand prior to the Sunday night matchup with New England. But, the Texans had three sacks against New England. They had three sacks in the win over Indianapolis. One of my sideline hits on Sunday in the first half, I pointed out that even though Watt didn't have a sack, he did have a tackle for a loss, drew two holding penalties, knocked down a pass and had two hits on the quarterback…in the first 30 minutes of action. Then, in the second half, he had that sack and a forced fumble that kept Tennessee out of the end zone at that moment. My point in all of that is that he STILL impacts EVERY play, broken hand in a balled up cast or not. EVERY. SINGLE. PLAY.
- The secondary's coverage on Sunday was as good as I can remember. When Mettenberger did get a man open, the receiver caught it for no yards after the catch. However, those times were few and far between. The coverage and open field tackling were on point all day long.
- Eddie Pleasant made one of the best plays I can remember for anyone on this defense. I was going to be happy with the tackle after the catch by Antonio Andrews. It wasn't going to be a first down, but Pleasant made more out of the play than first imagined. As he struck Andrews and took him to the ground, he ripped the ball away from Andrews for the interception, his second of the season. The play of Simon and Pleasant (i.e indispensable players that don't get the acclaim of others) have given the Texans a tremendous lift throughout the past eight games.
- One of the best moments of the game happened right in front of me. Head coach Bill O'Brien pointed out a holding penalty on Sensabaugh. On a Weeden throw in the third quarter, the ball skipped right near me on the sideline, which I thought was weird given the way he'd thrown the ball all day long. Well, there was a reason for that. Sensabaugh held Hopkins and the back judge threw his flag nearly immediately. As soon as the ball hit the ground, Sensabaugh gave the universal sign for no catch but didn't see the flag thrown behind him. But, O'Brien saw it and pointed it out. Sensabaugh still hadn't seen the flag and said something to O'Brien who then pointed at the flag. When Sensabaugh saw the flag, he then turned his ire on the referee. He didn't stop talking to him for the next two minutes. I felt for him in some sense; it's not easy to tangle with 'Nuk all day long.
- Alfred Blue not only led the team in rushing but forced a key fumble by Harry Douglas on his first punt return of the day. Not sure how many running backs throughout the NFL could make that claim today or any other day, to be honest.
- One of the advantages of getting such a big lead in the second half was the opportunity to rest starters on defense in the second half. Brian Cushing, Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Watt and Vince Wilfork were able to take most of the fourth quarter off.
- Unfortunately, injuries to A.J. Bouye and Charles James forced Kareem back into the game in the fourth quarter. He was in full on pre-season game mode and had to get all strapped up and ready to go back in the game. I saw him at one point after a few plays buckling his shoulder pads while he was on the field.
- How good was the defense on Sunday? The Titans finished the game with 257 yards, of which, 152 came in the fourth quarter. Through the first three quarters, while it was still a game, the Texans held the Titans to 105 yards. That's 105 yards total offense. Let's go further...the Titans fumbled, punted six straight times, had a pass picked, punted again, fumbled again and punted twice on their first 12 drives of the game.
- The third quarter? The Texans three drives went for 162 yards, two touchdowns and a field goal. The Titans two drives? 11 yards, an interception and a punt.
- The B.J. Daniels' experiment will reap some dividends in future weeks and showed some promise, even though he didn't break it wide open today. The Titans were clearly aware of his presence. The first time Daniels ran zone read, Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo played Daniels as well as a college defensive end/OLB plays it on that level. It was clear that they prepared for Daniels, the Wildcat and the zone read.
- I spoke with Daniels after the game and he's a composed, calm young man who understands his role, and what he can provide, for this team. He's a really good fit for this team, at this time and will find a way to impact next week against Jacksonville.
- Not surprisingly, wide receiver Nate Washington gave the pre-game speech to the team. I've said this a few times over the past couple of months that Washington was the voice this team heard when things got rough earlier in the season. He and Wilfork have been so good in the locker room and the veteran presence each has provided has been invaluable for this team. But, back to Nate…getting the chance to snatch a TD in the building he once called home was definitely something I wanted for him. He skied up over the Titans defensive back and took one right off his helmet for the touchdown. I'll say this about Nate…he was more excited for Hop after Hop's touchdown than he was after his touchdown. The one thing I loved, though, was after Nate's touchdown. He did a little dance/jig and flipped the ball in celebration. He then high fived/hugged all his teammates. He seemed to forget about the ball. So, Hop went and got it for him. I saw Hop running off the field with the ball for the teammate his receiver mates affectionately nicknamed The O.G.
- Okay, here's the playoff scenario for the Texans, starting with the Monday Night contest between the Bengals and the Broncos. If the Bengals beat the Broncos, the Texans win the AFC South, clinching before Week 17 commences. If the Broncos win, the Texans can make it real simple on Sunday. Win and in OR Colts lose or tie to Tennessee in Indianapolis. Now, the likelihood of that Tennessee team that we saw today beating the Colts in Indy with their season on the line??? Not happening. But, if the Texans finish the season with a win, it doesn't matter. But, what happens, if the Texans lose and the Colts win…tie-breaker time…and that I'll leave to the experts for later in the week. Just know a combination of ten different things MUST happen for the Colts to win the tie-breaker.
- For now, I'll just go put on my orange and black and cheer like you know what for the Bengals on Monday night.
Well, that wraps it up from Nashville. We had dinner at one of my favorite spots on Saturday night. The Texans dominated on Sunday. It was an outstanding Holiday weekend (minus the awful weather that impacted many of you - thoughts and prayers to all). It's now on to Jacksonville; we'll have to wait until late Monday night to know what it truly means.
Check out snapshots of the action from the Texans at Titans Week 16 matchup.