TEN-HOU grades: Texans cycle through QBs in Week 17 loss
Tennessee Titans 24, Houston Texans 17
Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from Tennessee’s 24-17 win over Houston to close out the regular season.
Quarterback Grade: Brock Osweiler, 40.0. Tom Savage, 46.2
Second chance for Osweiler, but same results
The Texans head into the playoffs with uncertainty at quarterback after promoting Tom Savage to starter a week ago, as he lasted only 17 snaps into his second start before being concussed on a quarterback sneak. Prior to that point, he was unimpressive, misfiring on two downfield throws and losing the ball on the team’s first drive, which resulted in a Titans touchdown.
Brock Osweiler looked about the same as he has for most of the season, with several impressive throws including at 6:45 of the fourth, when he hit WR Wendall Williams in tight coverage down the left sideline, but over the course of the game there were more misses than hits.
Top offensive grades:
WR DeAndre Hopkins, 84.8
LT Duane Brown, 80.3
C Greg Mancz, 75.8
T Kendall Lamm, 71.6
RB Jonathan Grimes, 65.8
Hopkins finishes strong
After a rough week 16, DeAndre Hopkins had a strong finish to the season, accounting for much of Houston’s offensive production in this game. He caught seven of the 10 passes thrown his way, multiple times turning short passes into long gains with his work after the catch. He gained 70 of his 123 receiving yards after the catch, by far his best mark there this season, and forced two missed tackles, also a season-high.
Up front, the Texans had recurring issues handling Tennessee’s stunts and blitzes, although grade-wise the unit was not terrible in pass protection. The marks were worse in run blocking, particularly on the right side with tackle Chris Clark and guards Jeff Allen and Oday Aboushi.
Top defensive grades:
DT Christian Covington, 86.6
CB A.J.Bouye, 82.1
DT D.J. Reader, 81.8
CB Kareem Jackson, 79.8
DT Joel Heath, 78.3
Covington earns season-high grade
The Texans defense was shortchanged multiple times in terms of field position, but played well in spite of it. Chris Covington in particular had a monster game in the trenches, converting 16 pass rushes into two pressures and a batted pass to go with four run stops. NT D.J. Reader likewise batted a pass and compiled a pair of pressures, although he was less impactful against the run, and on the back end, corners A.J Bouye and Kareem Jackson combined to allow just three catches for three yards.
Quarterback grade: Matt Cassel, 74.1
Cassel solid but unspectacular in his first start this season
When Matt Cassel took over for an injured Marcus Mariota last week, the results were disastrous after his first drive, but he looked improved this week, with more good than bad against the Texans. He delivered a strike downfield to WR Rishard Matthews early in the fourth quarter, but otherwise not much stood out considering only six of Cassel’s passes travelled more than 10 yards in the air, of which he completed three. His second-quarter interception was a force, but the pass wasn’t egregious and Houston could have been flagged for pass interference on the play.
Tennessee’s front kept Cassel clean for the most part, in part due to a quick release – Cassel averaged around 2.3 seconds in the pocket on his pass attempts – but he could have played better under pressure with four sacks taken and a 39.4 passer rating on those plays.
Top offensive grades:
WR Rishard Matthews, 81.0
C Ben Jones, 76.0
RT Jack Conklin, 74.4
QB Matt Cassel, 74.1
LT Taylor Lewan, 73.8
Matthews among few standouts on offense
The Titans took advantage of several short fields created on special teams, but struggled otherwise. When they did manage to move the ball, WR Rishard Matthews was usually the player involved; he tied his season high targets (13) and receptions (9), gaining 114 yards in the process.
Derrick Henry saw the bulk of the work on the ground, finishing with a season-high 65 yards in 15 carries and forcing a pair of missed tackles, making up for some shoddy blocking at times, including from tackle Jack Conklin, who had a surprisingly below-average day in the run game.
Top defensive grades:
LB Avery Williamson, 86.2
S Kevin Byard, 82.7
DT Jurrell Casey, 82.6
LB Sean Spence, 82.1
DT DaQuan Jones, 79.6
High grades in the front-seven
Tennessee’s defensive collectively played well in both facets, holding the Texans offense to a 2.1-yard rushing average with the help of five stops from linebacker Avery Williamson. The pass rush also had a significant impact, especially early in the game, ending Houston’s first drive with a sack-fumble by Sean Spence, which DaQuan Jones returned for a touchdown. Jurrell Casey was involved in two other drive-killing sacks over the course of the game, and he rounded out his 40 pass rushes with an additional pressure and batted pass.
Safety Kevin Byard was the standout in the team’s back-seven, which allowed just three completions on passes targeted more than 10 yards downfield.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Titans LB Avery Williamson.
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