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Hair of the Dog Week 17: Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans

A matchup that closed out a whole lotta bad streaks for H-town.

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

At the beginning of this season, how many of you figured that the Houston Texans would:

  • A) Clinch a winning record with one game left.
  • B) Be not only in the thick of the playoff hunt, but actually have a solid chance to win the division.
  • C) Beat the vile BE-SFs at home.

Perhaps you may have thought one or two of those options would come to pass. For me, I figured that likely C might happen, and possibly, if everything broke right, A, with an outside shot at B. Yet, here we are, after 17 weeks, and Houston has achieved all three options. In the return of CJ Stroud to the lineup after two weeks, the Texans went out and offered the fanbase a boring, but satisfying, [KITTEN]-whipping of the Titans 26-3. Along with Stroud, Will Anderson, Jr. returned, and what a difference both of those youngsters made. Stroud moved the ball against the BE-SFs with relative ease and Anderson led the Texans D in terrorizing the BE-SF offense. For the 1st must-win home game in recent memory, or at least this decade, Houston made it about as stress-free as possible.

As always, your Battle Red Blog masthead had their real-time takes on the game. Also, as always, your Masthead has some...colorful, passionate language about the game. Thus, we have edited out those words in classic HOTD tradition. Therefore, when you return to the office after the holiday break, you can read this without too many concerns from your office-mates...unless you are reading this instead of dealing with a critical project. However, your career, your choice.

With that, on to the ‘Dog:

HAIR OF THE DOG VOLUME 21, ISSUE 17: TENNESSEE BE-SFs/OILERS/TITANS @ HOUSTON TEXANS (or where the Texans have improved, but have they improved enough to actually beat TEN at home for the first time since 2018?)

l4blitzer

Brought to you by #Bartesian, our long-time, loyal sponsor, even if they don’t know it. Perfect to recover from the family drama of Christmas or to prime you to celebrate the new year. As always, drink responsibly and no drinking and driving.

vballretired

The vball clan is taking this in from the most magical and expensive place on earth. Picture proof to come.

May Stroud be magical and the Titans play as inspired as Florida St. did yesterday

Patrick

I’ve forgotten what I need to do to get ready for a playoff push, do I need like special clothes or is there a dance that needs to be done before the game?

l4blitzer

Brace for classic heartbreak…this is Houston…or that could be my fan PTSD speaking.

vballretired

The PTSD is strong

Patrick

My viewing companion for today.

Tank coming out to fire up the crowd. Love it.

Joe

IT’S TIMEEEEE

Oh my goodness!

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! In the biggest party day of the year, I hope CJ Stroud balls out and puts the Texans one step closer to being back in the playoffs. It’s weird, I’m still not used to looking at Houston’s uniforms and thinking “playoff team,” but it’s now becoming reality before our eyes. I’m wearing a CJ Stroud jersey right now to start off the day, and I do not feel embarrassed to wear this jersey like I may have New Year’s Eve last year

Patrick

Happy New Year’s Eve all y’all!

vballretired

And we get on Tron…and oh there’s a game

Joe

I’m feeling LUCKY

Patrick

Texans win the toss and defer.

FIRST QUARTER

BESFs POSSESSION

Joe

I hope you have a great day at magic kingdom! Get on splash mountain if you get a chance!

Nothing like celebrating new years by screaming and getting absolutely soaked

Patrick

I’m extremely conflicted right now. I have Derrick Henry as one of my fantasy RBs and I need him to win my first championship but I can’t support him. Ever.

Texans got lucky on that pass, that was all on the receiver there.

The Texans crowd just forced the BESFs to use a timeout!

[KITTEN] King almost had that!

TEXANS POSSESSION

Patrick

And we start with a CHUM

Joe

And then back to Singletary on 2nd down too haha

Maybe some garbage time yards to get you the championship

Patrick

Inshallah.

Joe

Man do I like those CHUMs sometimes!!!

Sometimes they’re just what the doctor ordered

Can we pay Singletary already

Patrick

I probably could’ve gotten a couple of yards with that hole in the line.

Great job by the OL there.

Drafting Andre Johnson is still paying dividends, even off-field.

I love watching this team with Stroud healthy.

Joe

Me too haha

This team is completely different

This quarterback is everything

vballretired

[KITTEN] thing froze. Splash Mountain is closed

Patrick

Aw that sucks.

Joe

NOOOOO

it froze???

Now it’s just snow mountain

vballretired

Discord

Joe

ROBERT WOODS

oh lol

Hahaha

vballretired

Splash mountain is being redone

Patrick

[DURGA] [KITTEN]ing [KITTEN] Robert Woods bulldozing fools there.

Stroud to Woods TD, c’mon, make it happen.

[KITTEN].

vballretired

I see you

Patrick

Ka’imi Fairbairn, the hero of Week 15, with the FG.

FAIRBAIRN 28 YARD FIELD GOAL IS GOOD. TEXANS LEAD BESFs 3-0

BESFs POSSESSION

vballretired

Is Anderson active? Pretend I’m stuck in a theme park?

Patrick

He’s very much active.

Although after that fourth and one conversion I have to question if the defense is active at all.

Fantastic hit by Harris there.

vballretired

Just get off the field

As long as it’s zero points I don’t care

Patrick

And so it is zero points for a zero franchise.

vballretired

They are the ancient Romans of NFL franchises

Joe

Hahaha

It’s Stroud time again!

TEXANS POSSESSION

vballretired

Keep in mind, I’m following on Safari

Patrick

Got up to let the dogs out and suddenly the drive is over?

I’m sad now.

vballretired

Did it even start?

Patrick

Never mind, still our ball. Running into the kicker on BESFs

Welcome to the game Dameon Pierce.

Joe

I’ll take roughing the kicker!

Schultz!!!

Patrick

SCHULTZ!

vballretired

It’s the remaining stink from those Oilers jerseys

Patrick

This team smells like Pasadena.

vballretired

Hey I teach there. Let’s pick another spot

Patrick

Galena Park?

vballretired

I’m good with that

I’m at the end of one. How far behind am I?

Patrick

Same, but they’re just getting out of the break here.

But I’m using Fubo and they’re usually a play behind too.

Nice one arm grab by Pierce there.

vballretired

I almost reupped with them just for this game

Patrick

I’m going to cancel it the second I get back to Seattle (my parents cut the cord and this is the only way to watch the Texans now), whenever that happens.

TRICKERY!

vballretired

I’ll probably get back on when we get back home

Patrick

Not an ideal run there by Singletary.

vballretired

I support the non-Pierce related running attack in general

Patrick

Generally, but the last two plays kind of leave a lot to be desired.

Collins!

l4blitzer

Mr. December doing some good December things

vballretired

Always

BREVIN JORDAN WITH THE CATCH FOR THE TD. TEXANS LEAD 10-0

vballretired

You lose a kitten ton on those prop bets Patrick

l4blitzer

A bit late to the party, but apparently, we could be eliminated from the playoffs with a bunch of results if we let the BESFs get us.

Patrick

I know, I admitted off the bat those were ambitious prop bets.

If the BESFs get us, then that would almost be it for the Texans just on that alone.

l4blitzer

Heard that Tunsil was off the field for a bit. Did he get back on the field for the last play?

Patrick

From what I’m seeing he’s currently in the tent.

TEN POSSESSION

l4blitzer

Harris comparing that last drive to the 1970s Knicks. Is he getting a head start on his NYE activities?

vballretired

Knicks? If he throws in an Anthony Mason reference I’ll be impressed

Patrick

HOLY [KITTEN] JERRY HUGHES!!!

vballretired

Where did he go to college?

RANKINS WITH THE 13 YARD FUMBLE RECOVERY FOR THE TD: HOU 17 - BE-SFs 0; 10:02, 2nd

vballretired

Holy kittens

Patrick

That’d be TC-freakin’-U if I’m not mistaken.

l4blitzer

Glitter Kitties driving on the Panthers…already up 3-0

Patrick

Aw [KITTEN].

vballretired

What

l4blitzer

Tannehill warming up.

Patrick

Oh, just the Jags/Panthers score.

Will Anderson’s gotta be licking his chops if they put in Tannehill.

l4blitzer

Now 6-0 Glitter Kitties

Patrick

Stop that.

Oh [KITTEN], Levis is hurt, I didn’t even realize that.

TEN POSSESSION

Patrick

LOL, Cashman’s helmet went flying!

Joe

WHAT HAPPENED???

l4blitzer

Nuk with a penalty….we’ll take it

Patrick

Tunsil headed for the locker room for examination. His day is done.

Joe

I went to set up some new years lights in my room and now it’s 17-0???

Patrick

They haven’t announced it, but I’ll bet money we don’t see him again today or the rest of the regular season.

l4blitzer

Oh wait…you mean other teams can also get flagged for illegal shift?

Patrick

Defensive scoop and score by Rankins.

Joe

LETS GOOOO

let’s go Rankins!!!

[DURGA] dang I missed that are you serious

Hahaha

Patrick

1000% serious.

Joe

Well they can make it up to me by paying him :)

HOU POSSESSION

l4blitzer

Apparently it’s a groin injury for Tunsil

Nice to see that Nico remembers he likes to cook at home

Nice scramble…and CJ didn’t take the hit.

Joe

Is the Nico the new Davante Adams Y/N

vballretired

This game is reminding of the SNL sketch where Belusji gets mugged every ten seconds

Patrick

Hopefully without the insanity.

FAIRBARIN WITH THE 38 YD FG: HOU 20 - TEN/OIL/BE-SFs 0; 4:17, 2nd

Joe

Alright!!!! This game might just be over

l4blitzer

What the Titans wouldn’t give to have Samuari defensive back in the game right now?

Joe

I mean the Texans know how to blow it but I don’t trust the titans to get many point themselves

l4blitzer

Bills starting to turn it on against the Belichicks.

Patrick

Took them long enough.

Joe

Okay what the heck is the UFL

Is that what the XFL and USFL merger is called now?

TEN POSSESSION

Patrick

Yeah, the Rock announced it on the Fox pregame show this morning.

l4blitzer

Christian Harris, you wanna have a big game…by all means, do so.

Looks like a battle royal in Baltimore

Patrick

They just ate Derrick Henry alive.

Joe

HOLY [KITTEN]

l4blitzer

Are we….are we exercising the Derrick Henry curse at NRG?

Joe

MJ Stewart destroyed Derrick Henry!

I think we might be!!!

HOU POSSESSION

Joe

Wasn’t expecting this in just a year I’ll tell you that

l4blitzer

King doing some punt return work

Joe

This is just weird

Patrick

Two minute warning.

l4blitzer

Oh, we get a bonus play on offense before the two minute warning

Ponies all over the Raiders

…and Brown is out with a hip injury?

Belichicks not dead year. Back within 6 at Orchard Park

Patrick

Wow, that catch.

l4blitzer

Would advise AGAINST the rugby scrum with Stroud

Unfortunately, that didn’t work either

TEN POSSESSION

l4blitzer

Now Texans…this will not do..

That’ll do Anderson…that’ll do

Joe

WILL ANDERSON

l4blitzer

Ibid

Joe

Will Anderson again!!!

Wow

Patrick

Will the Thrill Anderson.

l4blitzer

Now, about that 3rd down…

Patrick

If they converted on 3rd and 27, I was going to break my parents’ television.

FOLK WITH THE 53 YD FG: TEN 3 - HOU 20. HALFTIME

HALFTIME REACTIONS

Patrick

Your halftime score:

Houston Texans - 20

Incestuous Cannibal Posse - 3

l4blitzer

About as good a start as Houston could hope for in their 1st must-win game this decade. Stroud is picking up where he left off in the middle of the Denver game. The defense is generally shutting down the BE-SF offense. Tannehill might be generating some rhythm with that last drive. Houston needs to up that lead in the 3rd quarter and not have this turn into yet another patented heart-attack generator that this squad usually plays.

vballretired

The best thing I can say is they are simply TCOB. Sure, you’d like to have zero points on the board for them. Sure you’d like to have two touchdowns in place of those field goals but there’s a lot to like here and it’s fun watching that other squad open a whole carton of don’t give a [KITTEN]. That was us the last three years folks.

Joe

This has been a fantastic first half. Devin Singletary is back in a big way, the offensive line is looking way better, and the defense even scored! And, with Stroud back, everything is looking easier on this offense. He is the key to everything, and when he’s cooking in the field, everyone is. I love this team haha, please, football [DURGA]s, let everything fall into place to get them into the playoffs.

vballretired

Well let’s hold off on the p word

Joe

Yeah I should I just want it so bad

Patrick

Okay, third quarter, let’s leave the traitors squealin’ from the feelin’.

THIRD QUARTER

HOU POSSESSION

vballretired

Following the discord now

Patrick

[DURGA], it just looks so easy for Stroud.

l4blitzer

And we’re moving…we’re moving….we’re moving

Patrick

Metchie!

l4blitzer

Hey…good things happen when you actually catch the ball

Patrick

I about had a panic attack before that ref ruled Collins down there.

l4blitzer

We’re moving…we’re moving…we’re moving

Patrick

Wow, Metchie with the jet sweep.

That’s different.

l4blitzer

Speed…that also helps

Maybe if no concussion, Stroud scrambles, but I think he is going to play it very safe today…which is fine with me.

Patrick

Fairbairn back.

There’s like 5% of me that just wants to bring Fairbairn out over and over and give Tennessee a complex about him.

Kick’s good.

FAIRBAIRN WITH THE 27 YD FG; HOU 23 - TEN 3; 9:35, 3rd

vballretired

Touchdowns [KITTEN]

l4blitzer

Should be some good film for Slowik to review red zone performances. Titans have limited Schultz from burning them here…

TEN POSSESSION

l4blitzer

Raiders in a struggle to get the short yardage TD

Uh, Texans…you do realize that Derrick Henry can still run the ball…right? Right?

vballretired

He’s auditioning for his next team

Patrick

They’re gonna go for it.

l4blitzer

They really need to here.

Patrick

[KITTEN].

l4blitzer

Bend but don’t break continues

Ravens might be on the verge of locking down homefield in the AFC right now

Tannehill getting into a groove now

Patrick

I don’t like this at all.

Nuk, you turncoat.

l4blitzer

Bad missed tackle. Titans thinking legit TD now

Patrick

Intentional grounding.

Or it should be, anyway.

vballretired

Roll that clock

l4blitzer

Unnecessary roughness

Patrick

Aw [KITTEN], that’s a roughing call.

vballretired

Ref ball strikes again

l4blitzer

That second hit by King…could he have heard the whistle?

Patrick

More to the point, could he have stopped his momentum there? I doubt it.

l4blitzer

Make up call by the refs…sort of…

Patrick

LOLOLOLOL

l4blitzer

Or we see why the BE-SFs are eliminated from playoff contention

vballretired

Ok, context?

Joe

Dang he looked like he was gonna fumble there

l4blitzer

Took quite the shot.

Patrick

Yeah, that was a shot.

l4blitzer

The penalty on the BE-SFs…12 men on the field

Patrick

Not a makeup call, but better than nothing I guess.

l4blitzer

Misread the call. Thought it was ineligible down field, but got clarification

vballretired

Ref ball. It giveth and it taketh away

l4blitzer

Ponies can’t quite shake off Las Vegas

Patrick

l4blitzer

The Cards have tied the Eagles…sheesh, their collapse is about as a bad a Jacksonville’s

4th down…no flags

Patrick

STOPPED!

Joe

WOOOO

LETS GOOOOO

BIG STOP

HOU WITH THE GOAL LINE STAND; HOU POSSESSION

l4blitzer

Harris just missed the pick-6

Joe

PUT THOSE TANNEHILLS AWAY

vballretired

The NfC south…..geez

Patrick

Dude, the Saints are winning, don’t say anything that might make the football [DURGA]s change their minds.

l4blitzer

Glitter Kitties up 16-0. This may yet come down to next week. Let the madness begin

Is it just me, or has this team had the most goal-line stands in franchise history?

Patrick

As in successful ones? It’s definitely on the short list.

l4blitzer

Yep

Patrick

Usually if the other team gets that close I chalk it up as points.

Joe

Yea how many have there been this year lol

Me too!

Patrick

This makes at least two I can recall off hand.

l4blitzer

I thought they had a couple earlier in the season

Schultz has entered the chat

END OF THIRD: HOU 23 - TEN 3; ENCOURAGING SIGNS HERE

l4blitzer

That BE-SF drive yielded nothing and took 8:37 off the clock. Great BE-SF execution there

START OF 4TH QUARTER

vballretired

It’s our time [KITTEN]!

Patrick

Saubert? That’s a new name.

l4blitzer

I guess that is a real person and not a bad witness protection name?

vballretired

Something tells me you aren’t getting your CJ passing yards Patrick

Patrick

I had a feeling I wouldn’t but again, I was feeling ambitious.

l4blitzer

Dueling turnovers in Baltimore.

vballretired

Not through any fault of his own mind you

Patrick

Certainly not.

l4blitzer

Metchie…not a great pass, but you gotta catch that one…you did so well earlier in the game

Woods injured

Patrick

That said, if they wanted to get a deep bomb to Schultz or Collins, I wouldn’t object.

Well [KITTEN].

vballretired

Ugggg

Patrick

YUCK

That was gross.

l4blitzer

And Stroud reverts to the bad sack because he held the ball too long

Patrick

Rookie mistake.

l4blitzer

Eh, no one is perfect.

TEN POSSESSION

Patrick

Is this the second punt for the Texans?

l4blitzer

Now, if the Titans can give another 7-minute time-consuming non-scoring drive

Joe

Heck is that strouds first bad play of the game

Patrick

I feel like we haven’t punted a whole lot today.

l4blitzer

It is

Johnston can maintain that 51+ punt average

At least for this game

Joe

It’s ridiculous that the Texans have been this much of a surprise and they’re in a 3-way tie for the division with Indianapolis and Jacksonville

Why does everything have to be hard

l4blitzer

That is part of the mission statement for really any Houston sports team.

vballretired

Or why the New York [KITTEN]ing Giants should be on prime time every other week

Patrick

Don’t get me started.

l4blitzer

Eagles back in the lead. They might win the East, but they are limping to the post-season as badly as any team I’ve seen

vballretired

Now if it were Danny Devito at QB….

Patrick

That’s a Snickers ad right there.

vballretired

Read my mind

l4blitzer

Hmmm…guess we’re going to do this bend-but-don’t-break thing again

vballretired

Seven minute drive

Joe

Big stop on the ground again!!!

Patrick

Hell yeah Harris.

Joe

This defense is completely back

l4blitzer

MOAR practice for our 4th down D

Joe

Harris and Perryman combining on that

WOOOOO

SAAAACK

vballretired

Well….lets wait until we play a team really affording

Efforting

Patrick

Say goodnight, Tannehill.

l4blitzer

HOU WITH THE 4TH DOWN SACK; HOU POSSESSION

Joe

Derek Rivers!

vballretired

It’s garbage time y’all

Joe

He’s started his last away game!

This is exactly the kind of Texans game I was hoping for

We didn’t even need a great game from stroud!

This contest was just over fast

l4blitzer

At this point, if we can avoid throwing another pass, I’ll accept it

Ponies holding on to a 17-10 lead

FAIRBAIRN WITH THE 51 YD FG: HOU 26 - TEN/OIL/BESFs 3; 5:33, 4TH

Patrick

Because Nashville is soft. Not just the team, all of Nashville is banana pudding soft.

l4blitzer

Do the BE-SFs unleash Malik Willis, or is he even active for this game?

vballretired

Why not?

Patrick

He’s active, but whether we see him or not is anybody’s guess.

vballretired

Take a knee you cowards

TEN POSSESSION

Patrick

BESFs doing their best Florida State impression today.

vballretired

I called it before the game

Y’all have receipts

l4blitzer

Which Division is crazier? AFC South or NFC South…go

vballretired

Just thinking out loud….if the Titans cut Tannehill…..just sayin

l4blitzer

6 sacks for Houston today

Cards have tied the Eagles, again

HOU POSSESSION

l4blitzer

I’ll lean towards the NFC South as slightly more insane, but not by much

vballretired

Slightly less competent

Patrick

Noted Titans luminary Dan Pastorini is in the owner’s box.

Yep, it still sounds stupid to say.

vballretired

A large part of me doesn’t give a [KITTEN] about next week. It’s lagniappe. This is a winning football one year in this thing and after three years of absolute dog excrement.

Joe

Isn’t it a miracle

It’s one of the best turnarounds I’ve ever seen

This is what I dreamed the Justin Herbert season would turn out to be and instead it’s happening a few years later to a team I like way more

I think for this turnaround, DeMeco Ryans deserves coach of the year over Campbell, Stefanski, etc

vballretired

Next week decides the winner in all likelihood

It’s over. Go back to Possum Holler you degenerates

FINAL: TEN/OIL/BE-SFs 3 – HOU 26: HOUSTON LOGS ITS FIRST DIVISION HOME GAME WIN SINCE 2021, ITS FIRST WINNING SEASON SINCE 2019 AND ITS FIRST HOME WIN AGAINST SAID BESFs SINCE 2018.

Patrick

Texans social media guy chose violence today.

GAME BALLS:

The #2 and #3 Picks in the 2023 NFL Draft: Think Nick Caserio is still getting second-guessed for his bold move to draft CJ Stroud, he of the nightmare Wonderlic Score, and Will Anderson Jr, the player that cost Houston one of its 2024 1st round picks? CJ Stroud returned to the lineup after a 2 week absence due to concussion protocols and the team operated at a whole different level. Granted, his number were not the eye-popping stats we saw pre-injury (24 of 32 for 213 yards and 1 TD), but the Texans were getting the ball out of his hands quick and Stroud was taking deliberate steps to avoid the big hits he saw against Denver and New Jersey. He did get sacked once, but even with that and some key offensive injuries (more later), the team was running at a different level. As for Will Anderson Jr, he returned to the lineup and the pressure so lacking against Cleveland returned with a vengeance. Anderson logged back-to-back sacks in the second quarter and help make life horribly uncomfortable for Levis/Tannehill.

LB Christian Harris: On a team with many candidates for most improved player, Christian Harris is right up there. He logged 5 tackles, with 3 solo and one 1 TFL. He also had two key pass breakups, including the 4th and goal play that effectively ended the competitive phase of this game in the 3rd quarter. Probably should have been a pick-6, but nevertheless, Harris was a monster in the game. He helped the defense hold Derrick Henry to a mere 42 yards rushing, which is roughly 184 yards less than what he averaged against Houston at NRG in his last three games (226 yards/game). For the game, the Titans only logged 187 total yards.

K Ka’imi Fairbairn: Another 4-for-4 day kicking day against the BE-SFs, including a monster 51-yard FG. For the season, he is 8-for-8 include three 50+ yard FGs against Tennessee. Over the past couple of seasons, Fairbairn is proving a legitimate NFL kicking weapon. Maybe you don’t include him in the same vein as Justin Tucker, but Fairbairn has evolved into one the best in the business.

SHOULD BE FORCED TO LISTEN TO ALL THE RECORDINGS OF THE DRUNK KARAOKE SINGERS ALONG MUSIC ROW WHILE CLEANING UP THE NASHVILLE STREETS AFTER NEW YEARS EVE.

The Injury Demons: Unfortunately, while we saw the return of CJ Stroud and Will Anderson, the Injury Demons will not leave the Texans alone. Laremy Tunsil left the game early due to a groin injury, and CJ Stroud lost more receiving weapons will Noah Brown and Robert Woods forced out of the contest. The Texans did fine today, but what their respective statuses will be for next week’s win-or-go-home matchup at Indy will bear watching.

Houston Texans’ Red Zone Offense: Granted, this may seem like nit-picking in a game that Houston won rather comfortably, but the team went 1-3 on red zone opportunities. For the season, the team is in the lower half of the league (52%). Better than last season (47%), but in December/January/February, teams that win will cash in on those red zone opportunities. Houston will have to fix that, for next week and hopefully more.

With this win, Houston closes out the home portion of its schedule. Perhaps the squad may get one more home game, depending on what it does against Indy and if these same Titans can knock off Jacksonville. Regardless, the Texans will play the biggest game of its season when they travel to Indianapolis for a Saturday night primetime (yes, the NFL overlords have finally deemed the Texans worthy of a primetime matchup) affair (ESPN). Kickoff is slated for 7:15 CST. Win, and Houston goes on to the playoffs. Lose, and Houston comes home to wait for the 2024-25 season to start.