The Texans lost to the Tennessee Titans 35-14 on Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium.
With the Texans’ playoff status locked in as the fourth seed regardless of whether they won or lost, the Texans rested their three Pro Bowlers, quarterback Deshaun Watson, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Nose tackle DJ Reader, linebacker Whitney Mercilus, and cornerback Bradley Robey also didn’t play.
Meanwhile, the Titans were motivated to win, as they needed a victory to make the playoffs as the sixth seed.
On the Texans’ first series, backup quarterback AJ McCarron directed the team on a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, with Duke Johnson scoring on a 1-yard run, to give the Texans a 7-0 lead. After that, it was all Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and AJ Brown as the Titans dominated the Texans.
The Titans quickly responded to the Texans’ lead, with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Brown, tying the score at 7. The Titans then scored on a Michael Pruitt 1-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill, and a Henry 3-yard run, before McCarron scored on a 1-yard run, making the score Titans 21 Texans 14 with 1:16 to go in the third quarter.
The Titans’ Henry then scored on runs of 1-yard and 53 yards in the fourth quarter to make the final score 35-14.
Tannehill completed 13 of 20 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Tannehill’s quarterback rating was 130.8. Henry rushed 32 times for 211 yards and three touchdowns, and AJ Brown caught 4four passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.
The Titans (9-7) will play the New England Patriots (12-4) in New England next weekend in the wild card round of the playoffs.
For the Texans, McCarron completed 21 of 36 passes for 225 yards, and he rushed for a touchdown. McCarron’s quarterback rating was 65.2.
“I was looking for guys to go out there and compete at a high level. We made some good plays but not nearly enough. I appreciate the guys who played and gave a good effort. We just didn’t do enough to win,” Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien said.
The Texans (10-6) will play the Buffalo Bills (10-6) next weekend at NRG Stadium in the wildcard round of the playoffs. The date and time have yet to be announced.
The Bills have one of the best defenses in the league. They have given up just 259 points this season, ranking them as the second-best defense in the league. They allow an average of 330 yards per game, third best in the league. The Texans offense is ranked 11th in the league for points scored with 364, and they are 11th in the league with 366 yards per game, although they gained only 301 yards against Tennessee.
The Buffalo offense ranks 24th in yards per game with 331, and 23rd in points scored with 314. The Texans defense allows 366 yards per game putting them in 27th place, and they rank in 17th place in points allowed with 350. Those numbers were before the Tennessee game in which they gave up 467 yards and 35 points.
The Bills and Texans had four common opponents this season. The Bills lost to the New England Patriots twice, 16-10 and 24-17, while the Texans beat the Patriots 28-22. The Bills beat the Tennessee Titans 14-7 and the Texans split with the Titans winning 24-21 at Tennessee and losing 35-14 at home.
The Bills beat the Denver Broncos 20-3 while the Broncos beat the Texans 38-24, and the Baltimore Ravens beat both the Bills 24-17 and the Texans 41-7.
“We just need to have a good week of preparation. We can’t have a slow start to the week. We have to get off to the right start, coaches and players. We need to put everything else in our lives in the drawer this week and concentrate on the playoffs,” O’Brien said. “Buffalo is a tough team. They work really hard. We just need to limit our mistakes. We have a good football team that is excited about the playoffs.”
7:25: Texans: Duke Johnson 1-yard touchdown run. Ka’imi Fairbairn kick.
Drive: 15 plays, 75 yards, 7:35.
Texans 7, Titans 0
5:33: Titans: A.J. Brown 51-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill. Greg Joseph kick.
Drive: 4 plays, 75 yards, 1:52.
Texans 7, Titans 7
9:42: Titans: Michael Pruitt 1-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill. Joseph kick.
Drive: 16 plays, 90 yards, 8:04.
Titans 14, Texans 7
10:06: Titans: Derrick Henry 3-yard touchdown run. Joseph kick.
Drive: 10 plays, 78 yards, 4:54.
Titans 21, Texans 7
1:09: Texans: AJ McCarron 1-yard touchdown run. Fairbairn kick.
Drive: 16 plays, 75 yards, 8:57.
Titans 21, Texans 14
14:02: Titans: Henry 1-yard touchdown run. Joseph kick.
Drive: 5 plays, 75 yards, 2:07.
Key play: AJ Brown 47-yard pass from Tannehill to Houston 1-yardline.
Titans 28, Texans 14
2:54: Titans: Henry 53-yard touchdown run. Joseph kick.
Drive: 4 plays, 85 yards, 0:32.
Titans 35, Texans 14