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Value of Things: Ins and Outs of Texans vs. Titans

What was the great, good, and bad from the Texans 19-16 victory?

Syndication: The Tennessean Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

I am a 50-year-old native Houstonian. I just applied to be in AARP earlier this month. I don’t think younger Houstonians can appreciate how emotionally and spatially confusing it was watching yesterday’s game. You see the familiar Columbia blue and you just naturally are drawn to it. Then, you’re rational brain snaps to and you realize they are the enemy. Reason then converts into rage as you realize the folks in Nashville have no emotional connection to those jerseys. It’s all a giant troll job.

With that in the backdrop, there might not have been a more satisfying victory in Houston Texans’ history. Sure, there were prettier wins and more improbable wins. Heck, they won a game with a reserve running back kicking field goals earlier this season. It has just been one of those seasons and you almost don’t want the magic to end. Again, rationally we know it will end. It is a flawed team and as such, we will take a look at the great, good, and bad from Sunday’s emotional victory.

Key Stats

Total Yards

Texans— 340
Titans— 204

Passing Yards

Texans— 40/192
Titans— 33/138

Rushing Yards

Texans— 32/148
Titans— 30/66

Sacks

Texans— 7
Titans— 4

Turnovers

Texans— 1
Titans— 1

Penalties

Texans— 8/67
Titans— 5/50

Time of Possession

Texans— 36:32
Titans— 33:28

In keeping with the throwback theme I am reminded the “the NBA, it is fantastic” commercials from the 1980s. They would show highlights of NBA players making great plays as a way to advertise the beauty of the sport. If the NFL were to run a similar campaign they wouldn’t take any footage from this one. It was gritty, tough, and anything but pretty. Yet, it was oddly satisfying.

The Great

Coming into the game, we all knew the Titans had two good offensive players. Derrick Henry and Deandre Hopkins were head and shoulders better than anyone else. Henry ended the game with 16 carries and nine yards. Hopkins had two catches and 21 yards. Even though he had no picks, it might have been Derek Stingley’s best effort as a Texan. Hopkins did nothing while Stingley was on him. When they encapsulate a shut down corner in the NFL dictionary they will have game tape from this game.

Still, it was the defensive line and linebackers that get the game ball here. CBS showed a graphic of how Henry had over 1,000 yards and 10 TD in his last five games against the Texans. He was less than a non-factor. If you counted his four catches for one yard you could see that giving him touches was a horrible idea for the Titans. Levis was moving the ball with his arm and legs and Henry just stalled their offense enough to give the Texans a chance.

The Good

We will get more to this later, but going with Case Keenum was a ballsy move for DeMeco Ryans. I’m sure other coaches in the NFL would have also bypassed Davis Mills and gone with the veteran, but most likely would have declined to rock the boat. It is too late in the season to think about sending messages. This was simply about putting the team in the best position to win the game. We can talk about what this means for Davis Mills. I’m sure it will be a topic for talk radio in Houston.

It wasn’t a perfect performance. There were throws that Stroud would have made that Keenum was physically unable to make. That’s why he’s a backup and not the starter. Of course, we will get to the bad in a minute. Still, he did enough to win and made a couple of huge plays in overtime.

The Bad

There was only one reason why that game was made more difficult than it should have been. The defense gave up nine points on its own in by far the best defensive effort of the season. The offense gave up seven. Color commentator Andre Ware was all over it on Sunday. It might have been his finest effort as a radio caller. He called out who needed to be called out and didn’t mince any words.

The pick six was on Dare Ogunbowale and you’ll notice he had no other meaningful snaps in that game. Ogunbowale broke for the middle when the route called for him to sit in the spot where Keenum threw the ball. Granted, Mike Boone was out and Dameon Pierce has become a non-factor, but some Texans reserves had rough games. Michael Dieter was a disaster blocking on screen plays. John Metchie was invisible again until you needed him to just simply get in the way of a defensive back. Sure, maybe Singletary gets tackled for a mere first down. Instead it pushed them back and made their Hawaiian kicker play hero ball.

Quarterback Corner

This spot is usually reserved for C.J. Stroud but instead is being dedicated to Davis Mills. Goodbye Davis, we hardly knew you. The decision not to start him speaks volumes and the fact that he almost lost the game in the one snap he had shows he just isn’t ready for prime time. He has been in the offense all season and getting backup snaps in practice, but it was Keenum that was given the nod. It was absolutely the right decision.

In a season where Danny DeVito’s long lost cousin can win football games and nearly every team has an also ran leading its team to improbable victories you have Mills just sticking out like a sore thumb. Every year, 75 percent of the teams in the league have a backup that makes at least one start. Sometimes that’s due to injuries and sometimes it’s just because the starter needs rest or is ineffective. Next year we need to do better than Davis Mills. I’m not sure what he brings to the roster at this point. Keenum proved his worth and then some. Mills is just superfluous.