Sunday’s overtime loss added to the Texans litany of games where Watson’s offence, left the field with a lead, yet to only suffer a loss.
Memories of Seattle, New England 2017, Philadelphia 2018, New Orleans 2019 quickly came to the fore. As Houston added another moral victory to their extensive catalogue. Deshaun trudged off the field after an ill-fated two-point attempt and would not return, as the Texans were confined to their 5th loss in six games.
Watson’s reaction to the loss of the overtime coin-toss was telling. The Texans defence has now cemented themselves in unwanted history, total ineptitude against the run. For only the fourth game since the merger, they allowed an average of 9.7 yards per carry whilst hemraging over 600 total yards on the day.
Adding to their woes, their long standing issues with Tight Ends reared at Nissan Stadium. Anthony Firkser went for 113 yards as Ryan Tannehill’s resurgence continues, throwing for 364yards on the day. The Tennessee run game, was not just Derrick Henry as he and their third stringer, Jeremy McNichols, ran for 263 yards against a porous Houston front.
Despite the highs of two fourth-down touchdowns, a 53-yard bomb to Fuller were all bold statements of intent. And for long periods in the second half, momentum felt like it was swinging in Houston’s favour. They were further aided by a JJ Watt strip sack and Bradly Roby’s athletic interception, but ultimately the game slipped out of Houston’s grasp.
The Titans comfortably marched to scores either side of overtime. Whilst notably, Vrabel taking an intentional 12-man on the field penalty, to stop the clock on Houston’s final possession. As the offence helplessly looked on from the sidelines in the 4th quarter.
The two-point attempt that Romeo Crennel understandably went for, will take much of the headlines. Though situation was rooted in Fairburn’s missed PAT attempt, which was a catalyst in the Texans losing game they should have won. Whilst also providing reminder how fine the margins of error are for the offence, when propping up a defence that cannot play the run.
It begs, the question – why aren’t the rookies getting more of a run on defence? Can John Reid be worse than the current output of of Vernon Hargreaves or Phillip Gaines? Is John Greenard any less capable than Brennan Scarlett? As both positions pose a glaring weakness to opposing co-ordinators. As the Texans defence, from 2018 has disintegrated into a sorry resemblance of its former self. The unit continues to hit new lows by the week. No more so, than on the game-sealing wild-cat call, as Henry walked in the score.
Crennel’s comments post game were telling: “that play was run in practice and they should’ve been prepared … the responsibility had been vacated.” In plainer terms, their current defence is not only lacking in talent but in the mental aspects of the game. Change is on the horizon for this team but of course, it will take time. And this unit will plague the remainder of this year.
Sunday was a timely reminder of the offensive talents on the this team. But those investments have been at the sacrifice of the defence. The Texans have a star in Watson but how quickly or if at all, they can address the other side of the ball is their looming and unavoidable task. If Watson is to captain a competitive team in the seasons ahead.
FINAL: HOUSTON 36 – TENNESSEE 46.