Quarterback Marcus Mariota sustained a hamstring injury, rookie Deshaun Watson tied an NFL record for scoring and the Houston Texans dominated the Tennessee Titans 57-14 at NRG Stadium on Sunday.
It was the second divisional game for these Titans, who had previously bested the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the team had put itself in position to take a two-game lead over Watson and company. The result was an utterly dominant performance in “all three phases” by Houston.
The Texans 57 points would be a Texans franchise scoring record. Both teams now sit at 2-2 on the season.
“That was a total team loss, all the way around, including coaching,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey told the media post-game. “They obviously played a better football game than we did, in all three phases, and include coaching on that. … A tough lesson learned for us.”
Tennessee, again was hindered by a slow offensive start. Mariota completed 6-of-10 passes for 96 yards and two interceptions in the first half before exiting with the aforementioned hamstring that was injured on his second of two touchdown runs. On the third offensive play for the Titans, Mariota threw the first of his two picks to former Vanderbilt safety Andre Hal. Houston capitalized on the turnover by driving down the field and scoring their first touchdown on a screen-option run by running back Lamar Miller.
Watson sliced through the Titans secondary on Houston’s next few possessions, tossing touchdown passes to DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, making the score 14-0 and 21-0 respectively.
Mariota appeared to breathe life into Tennessee’s offense in the second quarter with a five-play, 75-yard drive resulting in a 34-yard scoring sprint by the third-year pro but the Titans porous defense seemed incapable of a stop and allowed Watson to operate inside and outside the pocket with ease to set up kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn who drilled a field goal from 50 yards out to bring the score to 24-7.
Mariota, again, responded on his next opportunity bringing his team down the field and running one into the end zone for the second rushing score from two yards out but was injured on that play. Backup Matt Cassel would come in to relieve Mariota in the third quarter and the results were disastrous.
Cassel completed 4-of-10 passes for 21 yards, two interceptions, one that was returned for a score by linebacker Dylan Cole, and a lost fumble to give Fairbairn an easy field goal. Tennessee would cough up five turnovers before the day was done.
Mariota would not return for the remainder of the contest and took with him what little offensive momentum the Titans were clinging to. They would not score again. According to Mularkey, the team will have an MRI done Monday to determine the extent of Mariota’s hamstring issue.
The inability to halt any kind of offensive momentum by the Houston was almost as disconcerting. The 12th-overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Watson completed 25 of 34 passes for 283 yards through the air and four touchdowns in addition to 24 rushing yards and an additional score on the ground.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 1, 2017
Against Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s blitzes, Watson was 66.7% of his passes with two touchdowns Sunday, per ESPN Stats & Info. In his three previous games, the rookie had not thrown a touchdown against the blitz and his 54.2 completion percentage on such attempts ranked 27th in the NFL.
NEXT UP: The Titans travel to Miami to face the Dolphins.