Week 8 vs. Titans | Harris Hits

This one stung. Thus far in 2022, the Texans lost four games and tied one that all felt like "get-able" wins but this one today never felt that way. Once Texans nemesis Titans RB Derrick Henry sauntered into the end zone on fourth and one in the second half, it felt like it was an insurmountable task to win that game. Yes, the Texans cut it to a one score game with :16 seconds remaining but it was the toughest afternoon all season long. Here are my Harris Hits from a 17-10 loss to the Titans.

This game came down to two things. The first one was that Derrick Henry was back in a Titans jersey after missing both games last season. I don't know if he loves seeing Houston on the schedule as much as we think he does, but he must really love seeing Houston on the schedule. In his last four games against the Texans, Henry has FOUR 200+ yard games. F. O. U. R. That's hard to comprehend, honestly, and I've seen every single one of those games. The Texans went from 2015 to January 2020 shutting the big fella down. Since that last game of 2019, Henry has 892 yards rushing, 231 yards per game. He has six games of 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his career and four of them have come against the Texans. Put it this way, great HOFers Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson had just three in their careers. Total.

The second thing was that the Texans offensive interior just couldn't block Titans Pro Bowl DT Jeffery Simmons and company. It was a physical mismatch inside and Simmons and his mates dominated throughout the game. Heading into the final drive of the game, the Texans had two drives with two first downs, two other drives with one first down and six three and outs. They had no drive longer than 28 yards (first drive). They had more drives with negative yardage than positive yardage. Simmons was the major reason why that happened. On a first half run, he actually took rookie Kenyon Green and tackled RB Dameon Pierce WITH Kenyon. It's one of the most physically impressive things I've seen in a while. Fellow DT Teair Tart was just as good as Simmons, doing a little bit more of the dirty work inside, but dominating much the same.

I try to find positive aspects from each Texans' performance and emphasize those in my Harris Hits, but this was a tough day to find any of those positives. That said, it was a great start - getting a turnover off a great DB Tremon Smith play on the first punt of the game. Smith sprinted down and hit WR/PR Robert Woods right on the ball and knocked it out for a fumble. RB Dare Ogunbowale somehow found it at the bottom of the pile and gave the Texans a shot at points early in the game.

Early in the second quarter with the game still scoreless, DB Steven Nelson made a tremendous break on a QB Malik Willis throw across the middle. Willis threw it a beat or two late and Nelson jumped in front and stole one for his first interception of the season. That was a brilliant play by the veteran cornerback.

Buuuuuut, here's the thing, the Texans combined for -26 yards on the two drives AFTER those turnovers. They started the drive after Smith forced the fumble at the TEN 42 yard line. Even five yards of offense could've given K Kaimi Fairbairn an opportunity for a makeable 52-53 yard field goal. Yet, the offense had a holding penalty and then lost three more yards on top of that.

After the Nelson interception, the Texans lost another 13 yards after a Rex Burkhead incompletion, a Davis Mills incompletion and a Bud Dupree sack of Davis Mills. After starting the drive at the +13 yard line, the Texans finished at the +26 yard line. Thankfully, Fairbairn knocked home the field goal to get some points on the board. But, two takeaways into Tennessee territory yielded no first downs, no positive yardage, -26 total yards and just three points.

This day was disjointed on so many different levels. Even the Texans special teams that have been just incredible all season long were shaky at times. On Titans K Randy Bullock's first FG attempt, there were 12 guys on the field. Bullock was short on the field goal attempt but the penalty gave him another shot. Even with five extra yards after the penalty, luckily, Bullock pushed the second attempt wide right to keep the game scoreless. On the final Titans punt, the Texans punt return team only had ten men on the field. Neither play had negative consequences, thankfully, but it seemed whatever was going on the Texans sideline had an impact on all three Texans units.

LB Christian Harris is going to be a player for this defense for a long time and he showed some more this week that has me more confident of that fact. He led the Texans with seven tackles and really flashed with his speed throughout the game. He's a definite building block going forward, but he needs some help from his defensive front to get to the ball unabated even more. That said, he's going to be a guy that we enjoy watching going forward.

It was great to see Roy Lopez Jr. come up with a massive points-saving sack near the end of the first half. The Titans led 7-3 and faced a third and two while they were in Texans territory. DL Jerry Hughes forced QB Malik Willis up into the pocket. Hughes couldn't totally corral Willis, but as the Titans signal caller attempted to work back and to the right, Lopez Jr. stopped him as he lost enough yards on the sack to push Tennessee out of field goal range. That kept the game at 7-3 at halftime with the Texans getting the ball to start the second half.

It was a maddening afternoon, yet the Texans were a crazy onside kick recovery away from a Hail Mary shot or two to tie the game. And, that's probably the most maddening part; there was actually a chance, slim though it may have been, even after playing their most not so great game of the year, to tie this dadgum game. Alright, I don't want to think about this one any longer and move on to the Eagles on Thursday night. See ya then, everyone!

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