Although the Titans played a decent game, they fell short against the Texans and lost 24-21. There were glimpses of good play but execution ultimately lost the Titans the game.
Here are some stats from the game: (via ESPN.com)
QB Ryan Tannehill: 22/36 279yds 2 TD 1 rush TD 1 INT
RB Derrick Henry: 21 CAR 86yds 4.1yd avg
TE Jonnu Smith: 1 CAR 57yds 5 REC 60yds
WR A.J. Brown: 8 REC 13tgts 114yds 1 TD
WR Corey David: 3 REC 6tgts 57yds
LB Jayon Brown: 10 TOT 7 SOLO 1 PD 1 INT
S Kenny Vaccaro: 6 TOT 3 SOLO 2 PD 1 INT
3rd down efficiency: 4/10
Total yards: 432
Passing yards: 269
Rushing yards: 163
Rushing attempts: 28
Interceptions thrown: 1
QB Deshaun Watson: 19/27 243yds 2 TD 2 INT
RB Carlos Hyde: 26 CAR 104yds 4.0yd avg 1 TD
WR DeAndre Hopkins: 6 REC 8tgts 119yds
WR Kenny Stills: 3 REC 3tgts 35yds 2 TD
LB Zach Cunningham: 14 TOT 10 SOLO 1 QB hit
LB Benardrick Mckinney: 9 TOT 5 SOLO 1 QB hit
LB Whitney Mercilus: 2 TOT 2 SOLO 1 PD 1 INT (returned for 86yds)
3rd down efficiency: 5/10
Total yards: 374
Passing yards: 234
Rushing yards: 140
Rushing attempts: 35
Interceptions thrown: 2
I think the Titans played well enough to win this game but they did not have the offensive spark they have had in the last couple of weeks. Ryan Tannehill played a solid game but he was missing receivers early on and held on to the ball for too long on multiple occasions. It was clear that Tannehill wanted to throw the ball to AJ Brown on multiple occasions. Brown had another incredible game and he is one of the league leaders in run after the catch. Unfortunately, Tannehill missed an open Corey Davis on multiple occasions.
While the passing game was decent, the running game was not very good. Derrick Henry did a good job of getting yards on broken plays but did not have the same outstanding game he has had in past weeks. Henry ran well but it was clear he was not at 100%. When Henry was on the sideline, Dion Lewis came in and had a couple nice runs and a touchdown reception. The offensive line wasn’t giving either backs a whole lot of help but had a pretty decent day in terms of pass protection.
Defensively, the Titans had a decent game. The defense had two clutch turnovers, one in the endzone and the other on the 1 yard line. Although, when it came to the 4th quarter, the defense could not make necessary stops. After trailing 14-0 at halftime, the offense began to pick up their game but the defense did not. They had an alright half but struggled to contain DeAndre Hopkins and Carlos Hyde. The injuries to the secondary proved very important in this game and if Kenny Vacarro had not come back from his concussion, it could have been worse.
The Special teams was one of the biggest reasons the Titans lost the game. Kicking remains a problem and Ryan Succop fell to 1-6 on field goals this season after his kick was blocked in the first half. It appears that Succop never fully recovered from his knee injury and I would not be surprised if he is cut or placed on IR in the next couple days. After releasing Cody Parkey (who was 3/3 on FG), the Titans have made just one field goal. In addition to the poor field goal kicking, Ryan Santoso’s onside kick at the end of Sunday’s game was terrible. The first kick did not count because of a timeout by the Texans but the Titans tried the same exact kick after the timeout.
The return game has also been pretty weak this season outside of one 45 yard return by Kalif Raymond. Many people criticized the decision of LeShaun Sims to field a punt from the 1 yard line but it was not a bad decision because it could’ve been downed at the one, giving the Titans even worse field position.
There were many odd plays in this game such as Tannehills intercepted pass that went off Firksers hands, Succop’s blocked field goal, and Jonnu Smith’s 57 yard handoff, but the bottom line is that the Titans should have won. The odd plays proved that execution cost the Titans the game. It was close in the end but when it really mattered the Titans could not execute. Despite the loss, the Titans have found officially found their primary receiver. When Corey Davis was drafted 5th overall in 2017, the Titans expected to get someone who plays like AJ Brown. Brown has already done more than Davis in less than a year in the league and he has been absolutely incredible. This game proved that Tannehill trusts Brown a lot and Brown made many plays.
With this loss, the Titans fall to 8-6 and they remain 2nd in the AFC South. Next week, the Titans play the Saints in Nashville and the following week is another game against the Texans. The Titans are still very well in the playoff race. In order to win the division, the Titans would have to win out but to win a wildcard spot, they may not have to. Obviously winning the two remain games would make things much easier, but Week 17 is an absolute must win.
These are the current playoff scenarios for the Titans:
• TEN beats HOU while PIT loses to BUF and either NYJ OR BAL
• TEN beats NO AND HOU while HOU loses to TB
• TEN beats NO AND HOU while BUF loses to PIT, NE, AND NYJ
Next week is clearly an extremely important game in the Titans playoff hunt. The Saints are currently 1st in the NFC South and they are 3 games ahead of the following team. I do not think the Saints will rest Brees and other players but that would be very helpful. Next week will be an incredibly difficult game and it will be season-altering for the Titans.