Normally, after a loss, particularly one that puts the Texans in an early season hole, I look for historical perspective from other seasons in my mental franchise encyclopedia. What the Texans are going through now is unique.
Deshaun Watson is starting to heat up. We’ll get to the final play against the Titans in a moment. He just threw for over 300 yards for the third time in his young career and both Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins had over 100 receiving yards and a touchdown each. Plus, the ground game gained almost 150 yards. Somehow the Texans did all this, with only one turnover, and lost.
The early Tennessee touchdown throw out of punt formation was huge for the Titans. But it hardly killed the Texans. Yes, they had to fight uphill all afternoon but eventually they took the lead and had a chance to close out for their first win.
This was a crunch time collapse with numerous plays to point to as difference makers between flying home happy and dealing with being two games below .500, staring in the face of a tough stretch of games.
The NFL is unpredictable. And we were reminded of that again Sunday as the Titans were missing their top three tackles and their starting quarterback. They made enough offensive plays early and late for the win. And they have a defense that wasn’t too shabby under Dick LeBeau and now has Dean Pees at the controls.
Special teams were huge in this one. A missed long field goal attempt gave the Titans a short field in the first quarter. Already up 7-0, they went ‘Wildcat’ and punched the ball down the field before a TD pass put them up two scores.
On the Texans second to last possession, after the Titans tied the game on a drive aided by a taunting penalty from the bench, they elected to put Tennessee on a long field with a punt, passing up a 55-yard field goal attempt. The punt went for a touch back. That, and an illegal touching penalty gave the Titans the ball at their 25-yard line for the go-ahead drive.
That was a sequence Houston would love to have back. First and ten at the Titans 39 yard-line quickly turned into Tennessee having the ball 14 yards downfield, without a turnover.
Houston got it back after the Titans took the lead. They pushed the ball close to midfield but burned up the final 17 seconds trying to find an open man downfield. Watson will learn from the drive. The Texans will make adjustments, looking to improve in all phases heading into week three.
But they can’t afford too many more learning experiences while ending up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. The Giants are coming to NRG Stadium and they have a passing game that can catch fire at any time. And the Texans need to cut down on penalties and other self-inflicted wounds, otherwise the ditch will get deeper.
Check out photos of the Houston Texans taking on the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium for Week 2 of the NFL season.