Despite loss, QB AJ McCarron has "blast" in first Texans start

It didn't end the way AJ McCarron would've liked, but his first start as a Texan was memorable.

Before kickoff on Sunday against the Titans, the Texans knew they'd be the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs and they'd face the Bills next weekend at NRG Stadium. So Deshaun Watson and many other starters rested, which meant McCarron was the man under center versus Tennessee.

"I know there's things that we did wrong and we can get better at, but I thought for that group, to really not play together all year and go in and do what we did, I thought it was awesome," McCarron said. "I thought guys were flying around, having fun. I felt like a kid again."

McCarron ran for a third quarter score, completed 21-of-36 passes for 225 yards, was picked off once and sacked four times.

It was his steady hand on the game's opening possession, though, that was impressive.

He guided Houston on a 15-play, 75-yard drive that burned 7:35 off the game clock and culminated in a 1-yard Duke Johnson touchdown run. It was the first opening drive of the season the Texans reached the end zone.

"I thought it was an excellent job of just collectively as a group, just kind of coming out with the mindset of getting the ball first and really driving down and trying to put points on the board and put pressure on them to have to respond," McCarron said. "I mean, it was just -- it was awesome."

On that first series, McCarron completed four of his seven pass attempts for 49 yards. On the day, he spread the ball around to seven different receivers.

Head coach Bill O'Brien like what he saw from McCarron in what was a tough situation.

"He competed," O'Brien said. "He's a good communicator. I thought he made some good plays out there, made some good decisions. It was tough sledding at times, but for a guy that had not played, this was a good opportunity for him to play."

McCarron's last start was in January of 2016, a Wild Card playoff game for the Bengals. He entered the loss to Baltimore late in the game this November.

"Remember he broke his thumb in Green Bay, so he missed preseason," O'Brien said. "He wasn't able to participate in the preseason because of the injuries, so it was a good opportunity for him to play. I thought there were some things that he did really well in the game. Really think he's a good player and appreciated his play today."

The Texans finished the 2019 season with a 10-6 record.

See photos of the Houston Texans Cheerleaders cheering on your Houston Texans on Week 17 of the 2019 NFL season.

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