Titans Win Thriller in Overtime vs. Texans

Featured

The Tennessee Titans overcame costly turnovers and a valiant opponent to win today’s game against the Houston Texans. The Titans rallied from a seven-point deficit late in the fourth to win in overtime, 42-36.

The Tennessee Titans jumped out to an early lead. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill found tight end Anthony Firkser for a touchdown to make it 7-0. The Titans’ next drive featured a 34-yard carry from running back Derrick Henry, who has become a leading rusher in the NFL. With twelve seconds left in the quarter, Tannehill found receiver A.J. Brown for the touchdown. That gave Tennessee a 14-0 lead.

But the Texans answered with a score of their own. A 13-play drive led to the team’s first TD. On 4th and goal, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass to tight end Darren Fells. That helped the Texans get on the scoreboard, 14-7, in the second quarter.

The Titans took over for a drive marked by some crucial third-down conversions. On 3rd and 12, Titans’ Jonnu Smith had a 13-yard pickup, breaking tackles to extend the drive. Then Firkser had another critical catch on 3rd down. Minutes later — out of nowhere — Tannehill launched a 22-yard pass to Adam Humphries for the touchdown.

The Texans’ drive was hampered by penalties — Tytus Howard got flagged first for a chop block and then for holding. But the Texans prevailed to garner some points. Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn knocked through a field goal as time expired. The Titans led the Texans 21-10 at halftime.

But the second half was a completely different story. Houston scored to narrow the lead, 21-17. Tennessee struggled offensively, with a blocked field goal, a punt, and a fumble on its subsequent possessions. The sack came courtesy of J.J. Watt, who tackled Tannehill and forced him to fumble. That made it 1st and goal for the Texans, and they wasted no time scoring. Watson hit WR Randall Cobb for a touchdown. The extra-point kick by Fairbairn was no good. But the Texans were now leading 23-21, and the momentum had completely shifted.

As the third quarter went on, Firkser made another critical catch, and McNichols had a 15-yard play just before the quarter ended. The fourth quarter began with a missed field goal by Stephen Gostkowski (who’d had a previous field goal blocked). All the momentum appeared to be on the Texans’ side. But their drive stalled. Watson was sacked.

Then, on the next possession, Derrick Henry dazzled viewers with a 94-yard touchdown run. The Titans decided to attempt a two-point conversion; they succeeded. The end-zone catch by receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine made it 29-23. But then the Texans struck back, with a stunning 53-yard TD courtesy of Watson and WR Will Fuller.

On their next drive, the Titans suffered a major setback when Tannehill was intercepted by Texans corner Bradley Roby. The Texans cashed in with a TD by WR Brandin Cooks. But, instead of kickiing the exta point and making it a eight-point game, Texans head coach Romeo Crennel elected to go for two. But the two-point conversion was no good. That left the score 36-29, with just 1:50 remaining.

Scrambling, the Titans hurried to score before time ran out. Tannehill went on a tear, throwing one completed pass after another. But they did some run plays, too. Henry rushed for one play; McNichols ran on another. But the clock continued to run. 1:10 became :53, and 53 seconds soon turned into 30. Then it ran down to 10. With just seconds remaining, Tannehill threw to receiver A.J. Brown, for the touchdown. That left the game tied, 36-36, with just four seconds left.

The game went into overtime. The Titans launched a down-the-field drive that ended in spectacular fashion: Henry got the ball and ran into the end zone for the touchdown. (Henry ran for 264 yards, according to the NFL. He becomes the first NFL player EVER to have 200 yards rushing in three straight seasons.) In the end, it was Henry’s late-game heroics that won the day. The Titans won in overtime, 42-36.

The Tennessee Titans (5-0) remain undefeated.

Texans Fire Bill O’Brien After 0-4 Start

By Terrance Turner

The Houston Texans have fired head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien.

“On behalf of my family and our entire organization, I want to sincerely thank Bill O’Brien and his family for their impact on our franchise,” Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair said in a statement. “Bill’s leadership moved our organization forward as he guided us to four AFC South division championships, 52 wins and multiple playoff appearances during his tenure.” (Those 52 wins, however, were accompanied by 48 losses.)

The move comes after a dispiriting 0-4 start by the Texans. After a (predictable) loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and another loss to the Baltimore Ravens the next week, the Texans lost again to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. Hopes were high for yesterday’s match against the Minnesota Vikings, but those hopes were dashed, too.

On paper, it should’ve been a winnable game: both teams were 0-3. But Minnesota scored first, with a rushing touchdown by running back Dalvin Cook. After a kick return later, the Vikings caused a fumble by the Texans and cashed in with a field goal. After another Cook TD, it was 17-6 at the half. The Texans scored a touchdown via wide receiver Will Fuller and then nabbed a field goal. But the Vikings responded with another TD courtesy of receiver Adam Thielen. Then they hit the end zone again, courtesy of running back Alex Mattison,. Texans WR Kenny Stills scored late, and the Texans tried to rally with a last-minute drive. But upon review, WR Will Fuller’s touchdown catch was overturned. The Texans lost, 31-23.

The Houston Texans are now 0-4, at the bottom of their division (the AFC South). Their playoff chances are practically nil. According to ESPN, only one team — the 1992 Chargers — made the playoffs after an 0-4 start. Frustration on the part of Texans fans and players was widespread after yesterday’s loss.

Defensive end J.J. Watt echoed the thoughts of many with his comments in a press conference yesterday. “We obviously have to do something different,” Watt said. “We are 0-4. Whatever we’re doing is not working. Something needs to change. Something needs to be different.”

What had to change is the leadership — which has come under fire before.

O’Brien’s firing comes after an 0-4 start, but it also comes after years of head-scratching decisions. In 2017, O’Brien traded 2014 No.1 pick Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks. (He’s now defensive end for the Tennessee Titans, who are undefeated.) That same year, O’Brien also traded Duane Brown — regarded as one of the best offensive tackles in the game — to the Seahawks. Star safety Tyrann Mathieu left the team in 2019 to sign a contract with the Chiefs — who are now Super Bowl champions.

But the final straw for many fans came this year. After a stunning comeback against the Buffalo Bills, the Texans were up 24-0 against the Chiefs. But after the first quarter, they suffered an epic collapse: the Chiefs outscored the 51-7 in the rest of the game to win, 51-31.

And then, O’Brien lost the support of many Texans fans — and caused an uproar among football fans — by trading away DeAndre Hopkins. Widely regarded as a top-tier NFL receiver, Hopkins had collected 31 touchdowns during his last three seasons. O’Brien traded him for RB David Johnson and some draft picks. The reaction was swift and merciless.

“My first instinct when I saw the terms of this trade was to worry whether Hopkins had lost a limb. My second instinct was to give the Texans side of this deal the same grade safety Tyrann Mathieu awarded his former team. This is a jaw-dropping, mind-bending, inexplicable trade for O’Brien, whose bizarre run as Texans general manager is going to be the subject of a 30 for 30 documentary one day,” wrote ESPN’s Bill Barnwell. Bleacher Report writer Bill Tanier lambasted O’Brien.

“Bill O’Brien is a staggeringly terrible general manager. He’s also an awful head coach, as illustrated by his many suspect decisions as the Texans blew a 24-point lead to lose 51-31 to the Chiefs in the AFC divisional round (among other examples in big games),” Tanier wrote. For the Texans, this trade is so bad that it has substrata of badness: Johnson is a damaged-goods running back who lost his starting job last year and is three full years removed from his last productive season.”

A Meditation on the Black Quarterback

By Terrance Turner

As we conclude Black History Month, I wanted to make note of a historic feat that may have gone overlooked. Four weeks ago, Patrick Mahomes became only the third black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. (Doug Williams was the first, in 1987; Russell Wilson was the second, in 2014.) Mahomes — the son of a black father and white mother — caught fire late in Super Bowl 54 to lead the Chiefs to victory. Mahomes’ stunning fourth-quarter performance helped power the Chiefs to score 21 unanswered points in the final minutes of the game.

With his surprise win, Mahomes makes history as one of only three black quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl. But he was just one of several mobile, talented black quarterbacks in professional football this year.

Lamar Jackson earned the MVP Award this year with good passing and even better rushing. In 2019, Jackson broke Michael Vick’s record for most rushing yards by a quarterback. He led the league with 36 touchdown passes and powered the Baltimore Ravens to playoff contention. Deshaun Watson likewise animated the Houston Texans’ offense with his mobility and passing, pushing them to a playoff win against the Bills. And in the XFL, the Houston Roughnecks’ P.J. Walker has scored more touchdowns than some XFL teams combined. (He eventually finished the abbreviated season with 15 touchdowns and only four interceptions.)

Could we be in the middle of a renaissance for black quarterbacks?