After the quietest, most uneventful week of build-up to a Texans vs. Titans game ever, Houston rather easily handled Tennessee and clinched a playoff berth.
It was an impressive win by the Texans, though it needs to be said that the Titans are a god-awful football team right now. How they have won four games this year, I have no idea. They pretty much hit all the bad notes of a bad team. Poor play, REALLY poor coaching, awful decision-making by skill players, dropped passes, they turn the ball over in bunches, and at times it looks like they aren’t giving full effort. I mean, they are BAD.
But as the cliche goes, you have to play whoever they put in front of you. The Texans did what they were supposed to do. They put the screws to a bad team on the road, and whatever struggles they had – they weren’t enough that the game was ever in doubt.
Matt Schaub continued the way he played in Detroit. Statistically he did well, he took decent care of the ball, but missed a few easy throws. Once again, as it has been for a few seasons now, it’s clear the Texans can win, and win big with him. Schaub spread the ball around today, completing passes to eight different receivers including, comically, himself. Matt Schaub is now 15-1 in his last 16 starts. Crazy.
For the first time all season, Gary Kubiak felt the need to give Arian Foster a bit of a break. Or it may have been a case of Kubiak going with the “hot hand” at the running back position. Foster and Justin Forsett split carries down the middle at 14 each, with Ben Tate working his way back in with 3 carries. Foster looked a little beat up in this game, while Forsett bounced around and hit the holes quickly. Two decidedly different runners, and today it was more Forsett’s day than Foster, with the Texans totaling a “fair” 125 yards rushing.
No turnovers for the Texans’ offense against Tennessee. They played another possession-heavy, clean game, holding the ball on offense for 33:48 (seemed longer than that, didn’t it?). One point of concern though, is 11 penalties for 97 yards. That just needs to stop, like now.
Houston’s defense seemed to be closer to form today, despite the considerable injury issues they are facing on that side of the ball. The defense took advantage of bad quarterback play notching five sacks (JJ Watt, Barrett Ruud, Antonio Smith, Whitney Mercilus twice) and SIX turnovers overall. Jake Locker threw three interceptions (Glover Quin, Tim Dobbins, Darryl Sharpton), and the Texans recovered three fumbles (Dobbins, Mercilus, Smith.)
The Titans still hit a few more big plays than you want to see this defense give up, but with all the injuries and only giving up 10 points, hey – no big deal. Five sacks and six turnovers is domination. Chris Johnson had only 51 yards rushing, and half of them were on one of his 13 carries. The Titans were plagued by WR drops, as well as some heady individual-effort plays by Texan defensive backs.
Brice McCain ended the game in a walking boot, and the Texans were already without Johnathan Joseph and Alan Ball. Sounds like Rick Smith has some work to do this week. Brandon Harris had his ups and downs in this game, and Roc Carmichael had mostly downs.
All JJ Watt did today was record yet another sack (15.5 on the season), another tackle for loss (28 for the season), another pass defensed (15 for the season), and throw in a forced fumble.
The Texans now move to an incredible 11-1 on the season. They are 6-0 on the road, and continue to win games in all ways possible. Blowouts, shootouts, overtime, short weeks – it’s just been an incredible ride. Now comes the toughest game on the schedule, especially if they are not healthier in the defensive backfield. The Patriots are ROLLING right now, and can absolutely obliterate you on offense. Monday Night Football should be a lot of fun next week. We’ll have to keep an eye on the Texans’ injury situation, and the weather. The (very) early weather looks like mid-high 30s, light winds, and only 20% chance of precipitation.
Hurry back, Johnathan Joseph. Please.