Buck Reising, Tennessee Titans reporter and host of Tackling Music City, provides three observations from the team’s Week 12 34-17 loss to the Houston Texans.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — That makes it eight consecutive wins for these Houston Texans (8-3), who feasted on the ever-inconsistent Titans of Tennessee (5-6) in front of a national audience. Play calls will be questioned, starting players will be evaluated and offseason plans will be made. The only statement that can be definitively made about these Titans is that they are the product of their own making with weekly results that vary almost as much they do. Here is what else stood out against Houston:
- A (Nearly) Perfect Mariota…To No Avail
- Quarterback Marcus Mariota had a statistically spectacular night. Despite the onslaught of Texans defenders that sacked him six times, Mariota started the game with 19 straight completions, 22 0f 23 overall for 303 yards passing, two touchdown passes and a season-best rating of 147.7.
- “When it comes down to it, we haven’t played complimentary football,” said Mariota. “We haven’t done a good enough job across the board. At the same time, there is no loss of confidence. Go back to the film, and find things we can improve on, and bounce back.”
- It is hard to imagine what more Mariota could have done. According to ESPN Stats & Info, The two highest-completion percentages in a single game in NFL history occurred Sunday afternoon and Monday night between Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers and Mariota. Rivers completed 96.6% of his passes in a 45-10 victory over Arizona. Mariota boasted a completion percentage of 95.7 in a 17-point loss.
- Hole-y Run Defense, Batman!
- Running back Lamar Miller gashed the Tennessee defense repeatedly throughout the course of the Monday Night fracas. On his 12 carries, Miller dragged the Titans for 162 yards and touchdown. His lone score was a result of a 97-yard dash after a failed fourth-and-one attempt deep in Houston territory caused a turnover on downs. The Titans handed the ball off to tight end Luke Stocker for his first career carry and he was summarily stuffed.
- Houston’s offense set a franchise record on the ground against Tennessee. Miller (162), fellow back Alfred Blue (49) and quarterback Deshaun Watson (70) buried the Titans with 281 yards rushing and two touchdowns in addition to the 210 passing yards and two scores Watson contributed through the air.
- Tennessee’s chances of making a postseason return grow slimmer with each loss to divisional and conference opponents. ESPN’s FPI estimates a 14% chance of a Titans playoff berth after this latest defeat and only a 2% shot at an AFC South title. The Texans hold the lead in the division while the Indianapolis Colts, riding a streak of their own, sit in second place with a tie-breaker in tow.
- “We’re 5-6,” said coach Mike Vrabel. “We’re coming back home. There’s some good things out there but there’s the things that I addressed earlier that have to improve. We have to do it more consistently. It starts with me and the coaching staff and then we have to make sure that our guys are ready to go play. We’ll come back home, we’ll prepare, we’ll get as healthy as we can and we’ll go try and win a football game.”
- With five games remaining on the 2018 schedule, Tennessee is not dead. They host the New York Jets (3-8) and Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8) on Thursday Night Football, travel to New York and the Giants (3-8) then finish out the schedule with an Alex Smith-less Washington team (6-5) and said streaking Colts (6-5). The Titans should, on paper, be favored in four of those contests. But, if there is anything to be learned from this season, it is that this Tennessee team cannot be trusted as favorites.