The Texans fell, 35-14, to Tennessee in the final regular season game of 2019.
Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins were active but did not play. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, cornerback Bradley Roby, linebacker Benardrick McKinney and nose tackle D.J. Reader were on the inactive list.
"I just felt like we always try to make decisions in the best interest of the team," O'Brien said about his decision to rest players. "Basically, once we got close to the beginning of the game, it was pretty obvious that our seeding wasn't going to change so we decided to do those things in the best interest of the team."
AJ McCarron started the game at quarterback and completed 21-of-36 passes for 225 yards. McCarron added 39 yards rushing on five carries, one of which was a touchdown.
Duke Johnson also ran for a touchdown, while DeAndre Carter led the team with six catches and 65 yards receiving. Linebacker Tyrell Adams finished with a team-high eight tackles.
The Chiefs beat the Chargers earlier in the day, so regardless of what happened against the Titans, Houston was locked into the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoff picture. Tennessee earned the No. 6 spot with the win. Derrick Henry scored three touchdown runs after missing the Titans' Week 16 loss to New Orleans with an injury while Ryan Tannehill completed 13-of-20 for 198 yards and threw two touchdown passes. The Titans will travel to the No. 3 seed New England Patriots for their AFC Wild Card matchup.
"Well, it doesn't get any easier," Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said. "You're going to have to go on the road in a tough environment, and again, great defense."
Led by McCarron, the Texans scored their first touchdown on an opening drive all season after Johnson's one-yard touchdown run. McCarron orchestrated a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive, completing 4-of-7 passes for 49 yards.
"I thought it was an excellent job of just collectively as a group, just coming out with the mindset of getting the ball first and really driving down and trying to put some points on the board and put pressure on them to have to respond," McCarron said.
Tennessee scored 21 unanswered points with Ryan Tannehill throwing two touchdown passes on the Titans' first two possessions.
On his first play of the game, Tannehill scrambled 19 yards for a first down. His short pass to A.J. Brown resulted in a 51-yard touchdown just three plays later. Tannehill's one-yard touchdown pass to tight end MyCole Pruitt on the next drive gave Tennessee a 14-7 lead with 9:42 left in the second quarter.
Each team had just one possession in the third quarter. The Titans ran the ball nine times on a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown run by Henry. The Texans responded with a one-yard touchdown run by McCarron on their 16-play, 80-yard drive that took 8:57 off the clock. However, the Texans were in a two-score deficit after another one-yard touchdown run by Henry on the next Titans' possession.
The Texans defense forced a three-and-out on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter but a turnover would give the Titans another chance to score. After Kevin Byard picked off McCarron's pass, the Titans converted the only turnover of the day into points when Henry scored on his third touchdown run of the day. Tennessee pulled away with a 35-14 lead with just 2:54 remaining in the game.
Houston finished the 2019 season with a 10-6 record and will next host the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card game next weekend.