Grading the Titans’ performance against the Texans on Sunday at Nissan Stadium:
Rushing offense: A
Ah, there it is. The Titans piled up 198 rushing yards on 25 carries, with Derrick Henry icing the victory with a 75-yard touchdown run inside the final minute of play. But even without that long gallop, the Titans averaged better than 5 yards per carry. DeMarco Murray had 66 yards on 11 carries, his second-most productive game of the season. Marcus Mariota added 23 yards and a touchdown on three carries. Mariota’s 9-yard touchdown run cut the Titans’ deficit to 10-7 with 4:18 remaining in the first half. He’s rushed for a career-high five touchdowns this season, three of them against the Texans.
Passing offense: C+
Mariota completed 15 of 23 pass attempts for 150 yards, a touchdown and 98.1 rating. He avoided committing a turnover for the first time in five games. He also found tight end Delanie Walker for a 24-yard touchdown to give the Titans a 17-10 lead – their first of the game – with three seconds remaining in the third quarter. Walker had a team-high five catches (on five targets) for 63 yards. Wide receiver Eric Decker had three catches for 27 yards. Nobody else had more than two catches. Wide receiver Rishard Matthews missed a second consecutive game with a hamstring injury.
Rushing defense: A
The Titans’ defense continuing stifling opponents on the ground. The Texans had minus-1 rushing yard on five carries in first quarter. They had 5 rushing yards on 10 carries at halftime. They finished with 53 rushing yards on 22 carries overall, and picked up just three first downs on the ground. Lamar Miller managed 56 yards on 15 carries. Alfred Blue had 2 yards on four rushes.
Passing defense: B-
The stats are a bit jarring, but while the Titans gave up plenty of yardage, they made plays when it mattered most, sealing the victory with LeShaun Sims’ interception in the end zone on a pass intended for DeAndre Hopkins with 1:13 to play. The Titans led 17-13 at the time. Tom Savage completed 31 of 49 pass attempts for 365 yards, a touchdown, the pick and an 84.1 rating. The Texans converted 17 first downs through the air. Hopkins had a game-high eight catches (on 14 targets) for 80 yards, but was held out of the end zone. Stephen Anderson had 79 yards and a score on five catches. He caught a four-yard touchdown to give the Texans a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. Braxton Miller had four catches for 71 yards, including a 57-yard catch and run to the 3-yard line. The Titans had four sacks. DaQuan Jones led the way with 1 ½ sacks – giving him 3 ½ in two games – before leaving the game with a biceps injury.
Special teams: C-
Adoree’ Jackson fumbled away his first punt return, with Texans running back Jordan Todman recovering at the Tennessee 41. It led to a field goal and early 3-0 deficit. Jackson had 41 yards on two punt returns. Ryan Succop hit one of two field goals, missing from 40 yards and connecting from 43. Three of five kickoffs went for touchbacks. Coverage units were solid. Brett Kern averaged 49.8 yards on four punts.
The Titans made a number of mistakes early in the game and trailed 10-0 for the second time in as many weeks. But they once again rallied to victory. Mike Mularkey lost his second challenge in as many attempts this season, on a spot call that appeared as though it should have been overturned. Play calling remained aggressive late in the third quarter, with the Titans converting on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 27 when Henry plunged ahead for the first down. Mariota hit Walker for the go-ahead score on the next play. The decision to have the bigger LeShaun Sims cover Hopkins, rather than Jackson, paid off after Logan Ryan suffered a concussion.
Reach Jason Wolf at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @JasonWolf and on Instagram and Snapchat at TitansBeat.
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