Well, that post—Bill O’Brien optimism doesn’t necessarily mean winning football. Despite some exciting, game changing plays on offense, special teams, and J. J. Watt, our luck ran out in the fourth quarter. In fact, our luck was literally ran out of the building when Derrick Henry broke a long touchdown run in the fourth quarter, turned a screen pass into a long game in overtime, and turned a wildcat run on third down into a touchdown to win the game.
Regardless. This was a fantastic game, and hopefully a sign of what’s to come in this new decade of Houston football.
What a wild game, coming to such a terrible finish. The Texans defied all expectations and battled it our pound for pound with one of the best the AFC has to offer. Entering this game and even well into the contest, The Titans looked primed to run up the score and make us look silly. The Titans defense had pulled down the curtain and revealed to the league how bad our passing defense truly is, both Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry had great games, and the Titans defense capped Deshaun Watson’s jar of elixirs entering the second half.
But, in an amazing ironic twist, the Titans settled for a field goal. In response to their cowardice, they were rewarded by getting it blocked by Justin Reid, and on the following drive, David Johnson ran it in for a touchdown. Tennessee had put a cap on the magic bottle for a good while, but after that block, the bottle was now open. J.J. Watt stripped the ball out of Ryan Tannehill’s shaky hands, and Deshaun Watson threw a dart to Randall Cobb for a touchdown. Houston had the lead.
On the next drive, the Titans march down the field and missed the field goal. The patented Curse of Cowardice that had haunted O’Brien throughout his conservative tenure was now haunting Houston’s division rival! A thrilling comeback was manifesting right before our eyes.
But, that was when the beast was awakened. Derrick Henry, in an act of divine intervention, stormed out of the gate for a 94-yard touchdown run to put Tennessee back in the driver’s seat. Once again, the Texans looked overmatched and incapable of handling success. But Deshaun Watson wouldn’t be denied. Will Fuller wouldn’t be denied. Most importantly, Romeo Crennel would NOT be denied. In another act of defiance from our previous overlord, Watson stared through the vicious jaws on Mike Vrabel’s defense and launched a downfield pass to a streaking Will Fuller for a 53-yard touchdown. The Texans had a one point lead.
Tennessee tried to steal some of what Watson was drinking and fired deep to Kalif Raymond, only to get intercepted by Bradley Roby! The defense had corralled the beast up north and Watson was ready to put the game away. A steady stream of passes downfield was punctuated by a dramatic pass to Brandin Cooks on 4th and goal to stretch the lead to 7 with 1:50 left. But, these unbelievable, dramatic highs had overstayed their welcome. Clouds darken the sky, and the bones of those battle red hellhounds began to tremble...
Aiming to seal the game through offense, Romeo Crennel decided to go for the two-point conversion. In one final middle finger to Bill O’Brien, the Texans were going to end the game on a pass to the end zone to Randall Cobb. It was swatted down. The conversion failed miserably, and now the Tennessee Titans were given a glimmer of light to escape their shoddy cage. They did just that. The Titans, as if nothing had happened between the first half and the final minute of regulation, marched right down field, gave A.J. Brown a toe-tapping touchdown grab to send the game to overtime. Little did we know, our fate had already been sealed. Overtime’s fateful coin graced its silver charm in Tennessee’s direction, and, just like clockwork, Derrick Henry roared downfield on the first possession of overtime and ended the game completely on his own. It was over, and the Texans had lost to the Titans, 42 - 36.
At halftime, we were fortunate to cut the deficit to eleven. The defense had struggled to force a stop as the Titans seemingly willed up and down Nissan Stadium like a fan desperately searching for a gift shop. The offense, despite a few exciting plays orchestrated by Watson, was silenced with ease. But, after those few magical plays, everything had changed in Houston’s favor. If only it would have lasted one play more.
Even though this was a heartbreaking loss, eerily similar to the Vikings’ and Chargers’ most recent losses, I am extremely proud of how this team responded to adversity. They got beaten to a pulp in the first half, and responded in the second half in exceptional fashion. What had defined Bill O’Brien’s tenure here in Houston was now gone, and a new, exciting era is upon us. If only it could’ve lasted for one more play. Only if.
The Texans will try to suture their wounds at 1-5 when they play the Green Bay Packers next Sunday at 12:00 p.m.