Here’s some instant analysis of the Tennessee Titans’ Week 15 loss to the Houston Texans.
The Tennessee Titans dropped a crucial Week 15 showdown to the Houston Texans, 24-21, and now fall to 8-6 on the season. Meanwhile, the Texans now sit in first place in the AFC South alone at 9-5 and control their own destiny.
The Titans shot themselves in the foot multiple times in the first half that led to yet another slow start and a 14-0 deficit going into the second half. Slow starts have been the story of this Titans season, even with Tannehill under center.
Let’s take a closer look at the Titans’ loss on Sunday.
–Ryan Tannehill wasn’t as sharp as we’re used to seeing him in the first half of this game, and it’s noteworthy that he missed Corey Davis wide open on multiple occasions. Despite that, the Titans were able to put together two 70-plus yard drives in their first three but came away with no points thanks to a blocked field goal and a fluke interception. The pick was on a pass that Anthony Firsker couldn’t handle and would have been a touchdown if he could’ve hung on.
-Tannehill looked better in the second half after completing 15-of-19 passes in the final two quarters, and he finished with 279 yards with three scores (one rushing) and one unlucky pick. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to bail the Titans out after a slow start.
-Derrick Henry totaled just 86 yards on the ground and it is abundantly clear he still isn’t healthy. You saw it on his long gain of 23 yards that Henry just isn’t running with the same burst.
-A.J. Brown continues to ascend as a star in this league. He was beating his man all day and finished with 114 yards and a score, including a 60-yard gain. Brown now has 100 yards or more and at least one touchdown in three of his last four games.
-Jonnu Smith was doing it in all facets for Tennessee on Sunday. He had the second-most receiving yards with 60, but also broke a 57-yard run out of the backfield.
-The offensive allowed allowed just a pair of sacks, but really did more than enough for the Titans’ offense to function. One of those two sacks came at the end of the fourth quarter with under 20 seconds left in regulation. Pass protection was solid all game, and the Titans averaged 5.8 yards per carry.
-Surprise, surprise, Ryan Succop had a field goal blocked, as he simply didn’t get enough air under it from 45 yards out. The miss was his fifth in six tries, and the 10th miss in total in 19 attempts for the team this season. The front office’s failure to do something at the position helped cost Tennessee this game and possibly its season, as we all knew this problem eventually would. It might already be too late now, but the Titans MUST make a change.
-The Titans’ secondary helped hold Deshaun Watson to just 243 yards through the air, but it didn’t feel like it provided much resistance defending the pass. The Titans need Adoree’ Jackson back, and the loss of Malcolm Butler is more and more noticeable every week. Houston converted on several big, back-breaking plays, and two in particular to DeAndre Hopkins.
-With the team’s secondary already working shorthanded, it was vital that the pass-rush help out. Well, that didn’t happen for Tennessee, and instead Watson was able to be comfortable in the pocket. The Titans finished with just one sack.
-While we spoke about the blown opportunities on the Titans’ side, it’s worth noting that this game could have been more lopsided if not for two picks in or near the end zone that were thrown by Watson. The first was on the first drive of the game at the one-yard line by Kenny Vaccaro, while the other came in the second half with the Titans trailing 14-7 on a tipped pass by Jeffery Simmons that ended up in the hands of Jayon Brown. Tennessee was only able to capitalize on one, though.
-With the Titans still having issues at kicker, the team was faced with a 4th-and-10 at the 37-yard line of the Texans late in the first half and decided to go with a fake punt instead of just keeping the offense on the field. I was all for going for it there, but to have your punter lob one down the sideline for a jump ball just didn’t make any sense. Mike Vrabel botched it there.
-Not much bad to really say about Arthur Smith. On the Tannehill interception I personally would have run it on first down there, however the play should have worked and scored a touchdown if Firkser simply holds on. Really just bad luck there.
-Dean Pees remained a bit too conservative in this game and the Titans didn’t get after Watson nearly enough, as evidenced by the one sack. The first pick by Vaccaro was a beautifully disguised defense that showed man-to-man but ended up being zone, which tricked Watson.