It was do-or-die, now or nothing for the Tennessee Titans. A win, they’re in. A loss sends them back to Nashville ending to their 2019 season. The Houston Texans, on the other hand, are locked in the playoffs.
Fate was already sealed for the Texans. Houston clinched the AFC South last week and hoped to play spoiler. But they’d have to do it with their backups. A lot of starters out to rest up for the first round.
Texans-Titans. Not shocking this end of the year match up determines playoff seeding.
A.J McCarron got the start under center for Houston. Starter Deshaun Watson suited up but wasn’t going anywhere near the field. Houston wants their starters fresh for next week.
The first Texan drive was electric. McCarron led the Texans on a 15 play, 75-yard drive. Running back Carlos Hyde got the majority of the touches but it was back Duke Johnson getting the touchdown from one yard out.
Houston took 7:35 off the clock on their opening drive.
Tennessee would respond with its own 75-yard drive. But this one would only take four plays and would culminate in a 51-yard catch and run touchdown from rookie receiver A.J. Brown. This also marked Ryan Tannehill’s tenth straight game with a passing touchdown. That watermark hadn’t been reached in club history since Steve McNair did it in 2004. Later in the second quarter Tannehill under extreme pressure finds MyCole Pruitt with a one-yard touchdown pass. The throw was a strike into tight, contesting coverage.
After the first drive took up 75 yards the Texans could only muster 75 more in the four drives after.
The third quarter would start off just like the first.
Tennessee got the second-half kickoff and marched 75 yards in 10 plays capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by Mr. Third Quarter, Derrick Henry. Henry came into Sunday leading the NFL in third-quarter yards (651). Titans led 21-7.
Houston came roaring back with a clock-eating drive. Going 16 staggering plays for 75 yards; the Texans ate 8:57 off the third quarter. A.J. McCarron rolled to his left to punch it in from a yard out to cut the lead back down to seven.
But as said earlier, it was extinction or bust for the Titans. After a spectacular 47-yard reception in double coverage by A.J. Brown put the ball at the Texan one Henry again would bulldoze his way in for his second score of the day and put Tennessee up 28-14.
But with time running out the Titans started to distance themselves further than my relationship with my family.
After Tennessee’s Keith Byard picked off McCarron late in the fourth the Titans punched their ticket to the postseason.
Derrick Henry on the next drive took it 53 yards to the house. The score not only put Tennessee up 35-14 on the Texans but it won him the rushing title.
Titans-Texans Fun Facts
Titan rookie wideout A.J. Brown would finish the day with 124 yards on four catches and a touchdown. He would finish 2019 1,051 yards. Brown was just 11 yards short of the club record for rookie yards receiving. The mark was set by Ernest Givens in 1986 when he put up 1,062.
Since the Texans already had a playoff date with Buffalo locked Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson had no reason to play. This broke his string of 37 straight starts.
A.J. McCarron got the nod under center Sunday and it was his first start since January of 2016. McCarron (as a Bengal) started for an injured Andy Dalton in a Wild Card loss to Pittsburgh.
Ryan Tannehill not only finished as the NFL leader in passing yards per attempt (9.6) but also in quarterback rating (117.5). His 117.5 season rating ranks third all-time behind A-Aron Rodgers (122.5 in 2011), Peyton Manning (121.1 in 2004) and Nick Foles (119.2 in 2013).
Despite not playing for the same reason as Watson All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins still finished with over 100 catches and 1,000 yards for his fourth Pro Bowl.
Tennesee leads the Titans-Texans head-to-head matchups, 19-17.
If Houston and Tennessee win their next two games a Titans-Texans AFC championship is possible.
John Henry Irons
Derrick Henry proved to be the Man of Steel in 2019 punishing opponents time and again on route to his first rushing title.
Trailing Cleveland back Nick Chubb for the rushing crown late in the fourth Henry busted off a 53-yard touchdown run to claim the title. His 211 yards and three touchdowns finished off 2019 with this stat line: 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Henry’s first nine games only included one 100-yard game. In the last six, he played he averaged 149.3 yards a game.
Both Houston and Tennessee kick off the 2019/2020 playoffs this Saturday. Houston (10-6) will host the Buffalo Bills at 3:35 CST and at 7:15 CST the Titans (9-7) head to Foxboro to take on the defending champions, New England.
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