Texans Game 14 - The Bounce back Kids Rebound Again

If the Texans had taken care of business and beaten the Carolina Panthers under Kyle Allen and the Denver Broncos under Drew Lock at home, they would be in great shape for the 2nd seed in the AFC and the bye that comes with it. But they did not complete either of those seemingly "easy" tasks. (Note - no win is easy in the NFL). But what the Texans did after those two losses and what they have done after each of their five losses was bounce back with big and important wins. The Texans have been like a very good closer in baseball. They have a short memory, shake off a bad performance and come back with renewed vigor.

Sunday's 24-21 win over the Tennessee Titans was a microcosm of their season to date. Not only were they bouncing back from that poor effort in a "not as close as it sounds" 38-24 loss to the Broncos, but they had to bounce back from potential disaster a number of times during this game. In a bit of an oddity, the two biggest mistakes (both picks) were made by Deshaun Watson, but of course Watson and his demeanor and his leadership were key to bouncing back from both of those turnovers.

  • The Texans took the opening kickoff, put together a solid drive that looked like it was going to lead to a rare 1st quarter Texans' score. But Watson on an off-schedule scramble threw to what looked like a wide open Duke Johnson in the end zone, only to be picked by Kenny Vaccaro on a terrific interception. The Titans then got out of the hole and were threatening after a 60 yard pass from Ryan Tannehill to AJ Brown
Bounce back - The Texans then tightened up and forced a FG attempt, which has been quite an adventure this season for the Titans. They had been 8 of 17 coming into the game and veteran Ryan Succop coming off of an injury had only been good on 1 of 5 FGs on the season. (Remember that Succop had been a thorn in the Texans' side with 12 of 13 FGs for his career). Angelo Blackson blocked Succop's low altitude effort to keep the score at 0-0.
  • The Texans get eaten up by the Titans on an 11 play drive that covers 76 yards and spanned from the first quarter to the second quarter.

Bounce back - At the cusp of the end zone, Justin Reid repeats the jarring hit that won the first Jaguar game, stopping the drive and knocking the ball into the hands of Whitney Mercilus. Whitney avoids the tackle attempt of Tannehill, jags around another would be tackler and rumbles 86 yards like a piano mover whose piano grows heavier and heavier with each step as he almost begs for someone to tackle him and put him out of his misery. Instead of trailing 7-0, Watson hits Kenny Stills for a 7-0 lead.

  • After another Watson-Stills hookup the Texans hit halftime with what appears to be a comfortable 14-0 lead. The Titans come out and grind out a 15 play / 9+ minute drive for a TD, grab another interception in the end zone on a foolish dink pass and blitzkrieg down the field aided by one of the longest runs from scrimmage by freak of nature TE Jonnu Smith to tie the game. (Note: Smith is the guy who overtook Whitney on his interception return by running about 120 yds diagonally across the field passing everything that moved).
Bounce back - The Texans came back from the tied game to string together two long drives for a TD and a FG and a seemingly comfortable 10 pt lead with 3+ minutes left.
  • The Texans again proved that the only thing their prevent defense prevents is the relaxation and enjoyment of their fans at the end of games. The Titans go 75 yards in 7 plays and use up only 1:22 of the clock to pull within 3 pts with 2 minutes left.
Bounce back - Justin Reid makes a nice recovery of the on-side kick. The Texans don't quite run out the clock, but Bryan Anger punts deep, and Charles Omenihu gets the team's second sack of the day to end it all.

There were a lot of positives on the day:
  • The Texans won on the road against their closest division rival
  • The Texans overcame losing the turnover battle (2-1)
  • The return of Will Fuller was another bounceback that helped the team. Fuller had an OK day - 5 catches for 61 yds. But more importantly, when he is in the lineup opposing teams are like a parent trying to take care of three toddlers at once. There are not enough hands. Between Fuller, Stills and DeAndre Hopkins, the Titans had to keep choosing their poison. In the first half that poison was Stills with his 2 TDs. During the Texans two 4th quarter scoring drives that poison was Hop as he had 4 catches for 98 yards as the Texans grabbed control of the game back.
  • Carlos Hyde was a battering ram of positive yardage throughout the game and scored the critical third TD on a ten yard run around left end. He went over the 100 yd mark for the game and the 1000 yd mark for the season. Considering Hyde ran for almost 1000 yds in 2016 and 2017 and then fell to 571 yds in 2018, he has been one of the biggest bounce back stories on the team.
  • Deshaun Watson was so cool and in control most of the game (19 for 27, 243 yds, 2 TDs and 32 yds rushing) the two interceptions were just so out of character. Again, he showed that he could bounce back from an inferior game against the Broncs and from his two big boo-boos in this game to lead the team to a critical win.
  • Zach Cunningham was everywhere joining in on 14 tackles on the day. The Texans did a good job of holding down Derrick Henry, who outside of one 23 yard run was held to 3 yds a carry on the balance of his runs.
  • The line did a good job of job #1 as Watson was only sacked once on the day and they stayed away from holding penalties.
In a year of many bounce backs - this game was the one that the Texans needed the most (to date) and the division is completely within their power to win in the next two weeks.