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Week 15 Game Recap: Houston Texans 24, Tennessee Titans 21


What you need to know

Houston Texans

WR Keke Coutee went back to being inactive with Will Fuller back in the lineup.

It was a slow day for the tight end groups. Darren Fells and Jordan Akins combined for 3 receptions for nine yards. Jordan Thomas was active but played only one offensive snap.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans snapped a four-game win streak as they fell to the Texans in a hard-fought game full of big plays on both sides of the ball. Ryan Tannehill had a decent game under center, but it was A.J. Brown who stole the show again for this offense as he finished with a team-high 13 targets, eight receptions, 114 yards, and a touchdown. Jonnu Smith also had a big day with a 57-yard run and 60 receiving yards. Derrick Henry was kept out of the end zone and held under 100 yards for the first time in over a month as he struggled finding room to run for most of the afternoon but suffered no apparent setbacks from the hamstring injury he has been dealing with.

Houston Texans

QB Deshaun Watson, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 27 - 243 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 7 - 32 - 0
It could have been a bigger day for Deshaun Watson than his two touchdown performance. Both touchdowns went to Kenny Stills in favorable matchups to get him open in the red zone. Watson threw two costly interceptions in the red zone. One was intended for a wide open Duke Johnson but the ball was left hanging too much for the safer to intercept it at the one. The other was on a play action pass that was tipped at the line headed for Will Fuller but that too was intercepted. Watson’s best passes on the day came on two pinpoint strikes to DeAndre Hopkins, both going for 35-yards.

RB Carlos Hyde, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 26 - 104 - 1
It was a monumental day for the veteran running back. Helping pace the running game with 119 yards, Hyde helped bring back life to a missing running game. Hyde was able to eclipse the 1,000 yard plateau for the first time in his career on his 10-yard touchdown run. It was the second game in. Row that Hyde has help be what they needed on the ground.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 119 - 0 (8 targets)
It was a slow start for Hopkins but in the 4th quarter he took over when Watson starting feeding him the football. Hopkins had two receptions for 35 yards and was able to break open a defense that had him contained for majority of the game.

WR Will Fuller, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 61 - 0 (7 targets)
When Will Fuller plays that usually means good things for the Texans offense. Fuller did most of his work on intermediate routes and racked up 61 yards running hitch and curl routes. The Titans were worried about his vertical presence, Hopkins and Kenny Stills were able to do most of the damage.

WR Kenny Stills, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 35 - 2 (3 targets)
There were only three receptions on the day for Stills but two went for touchdowns. Stills caught two touchdowns that singled him. Up against Titans DB Logan Ryan. Stills in both plays was able to run to voids in the defense to allow Watson to throw easy passes for him to run under.


Tennessee Titans

QB Ryan Tannehill, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 36 - 279 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 10 - 1
Ryan Tannehill had a mediocre outing in which he passed for a couple of touchdowns and an interception that was by no means his fault. He also had issues holding on to the ball for far too long while hesitating to pull the trigger on a number of throws. Tannehill’s first pass of the game, however, was a beauty as he connected with A.J. Brown on a deep ball for a 60-yard gain. It was a bold play call with the Titans backed up on their own three-yard line, but he hit Brown in full stride for what would be the longest offensive play of the day for the Titans. Tannehill caught a bad break on his third drive of the game as his intended receiver allowed what would have been a touchdown reception to bounce off his hands into those of Whitney Mercilus, who nearly returned the interception for a touchdown. Tannehill made a number of clutch throws as he led a nine-plus minute touchdown drive to open up the second half. Part of his success on this drive came on the ground as he picked up a first down on a 10-yard scramble. He capped that drive off with his legs also, rolling right after the play-action fake and easily walking it in for a half-yard touchdown run. His first touchdown pass of the game came just after the start of the fourth quarter as Tannehill had plenty of time to find A.J. Brown with a laser throw for the score from 5 yards out. Tannehill got his second passing touchdown with minutes left in the game from an easy dump-off to Dion Lewis, who took advantage of soft coverage to find the end zome from 11-yards out.

RB Derrick Henry, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 86 - 0 (1 targets)
Derrick Henry had a relatively slow day by his standards as he was held out of the end zone and under 100 rushing yards for the first time in over a month. He came into this game with a hamstring injury, but it did not noticeably limit him ad Henry still rushed 21 times and played the majority of the snaps. It wasn’t until the third drive of the game until Henry finally had a few decent runs, gaining six yards on back-to-back runs between the end of the first and start of the second quarters. He followed those runs up just two plays later with a huge gain of 23 yards, taking advantage of great blocking as he found a sizeable hole through which to make his way downfield. He saw out the next series and was quiet to close out the first half. Henry was featured with seven runs on the first drive after halftime, which included an 11-yard run from inside the red zone as Henry broke a tackle and came within just two yards of scoring. The rest of the game was uneventful for Henry as the Titans were in pass-first mode trying to catch up with the Texans.

RB Dion Lewis, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 1 (1 targets)
Dion Lewis saw a slight uptick in playing time, but he still touched the ball just four times--three of which were runs for a total of 10 rushing yards. His last touch of the game came late in the fourth quarter as Lewis was the beneficiary of soft coverage near the goal line and took a dump-off 11 yards for his first touchdown of the season.

WR A.J. Brown, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 114 - 1 (13 targets)
A.J. Brown saw a career-high 13 targets this week as he was the featured piece of this Titans offense. His day got started with a bang as Brown hauled in the first pass play of the game for a huge 60-yard gain. It was an impressive deep ball from Ryan Tannehill to catch Brown in full stride, who made the catch over his shoulder and ran another few yards before going out of bounds. Brown had another chance at making a clutch play on third down later in this drive, but he couldn’t hold on to the ball coming down on the left sideline. Brown would also drop his next target on the following drive. Beyond those couple of drops, however, there would be only positive things to say about Brown’s play. He caught a pair of out routes for 11-yard gains just before halftime to help move the chains. Brown then chipped in with two more catches on the first drive of the second half--the first coming on the left sideline causing Brown to elevate to make the grab, and the second thrown slightly behind Brown which caused him to quickly turn back to snare the catch. After heavy involvement in the offense all day, Brown finally found the end zone near the start of the fourth quarter as he hauled in the pass from five yards out. It was a long play on which Brown’s route was busted, so he did a great job scrambling in the end zone to find space and come back to Tannehill’s throw to make the play just over the goal line.

WR Corey Davis, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 57 - 0 (6 targets)
Corey Davis finished this game with his most yards since Week 7, but he was still overshadowed by A.J. Brown. Just a few plays after getting called for a false start, Davis got involved on the third drive of the game as he made a big catch on 3rd-and-13 to move the chains, gaining 22 yards on the play. Davis would haul in his second pass just after halftime as he caught a screen and turned on the jets, finding the edge and accelerating up the sideline for a 13-yard gain to get Tennessee within the red zone. His last catch was an eight-yard comeback route in the final minutes of the game that Davis hauled in, shed the first tackler, scampered downfield to pick up the first down and more for a 19-yard gain.

TE Jonnu Smith, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 57 - 0, Rec: 5 - 60 - 0 (5 targets)
Jonnu Smith was absent from the Titans offense in the first half, with the exception of a spectacular defensive play to catch up to Whitney Mercilus to make a touchdown-saving tackle after a Tannehill interception. The second half was another story for Smith as he gained all 117 of his all-purpose yards. That big half started in an unorthodox way as the Titans drew up a running play for Smith, who took a toss from Tannehill and found room to run on the right sideline. Smith showed incredible acceleration as he streaked down the field for what ended up being a 57-yards gain, the longest run play of the day and the longest run by any tight end in over 40 years. On the next drive, Smith caught his first pass of the game on a screen to the left side of the field for 10 yards. Smith led off the fourth quarter with a 16-yard catch, then hauled in another big reception of 17 yards to start off the following drive. That 17-yard reception looked like it was going nowhere as the defensive back put a nice hit on Smith at the line of scrimmage, but Smith basically ran right through the tackle attempt and proceeded downfield for the first down. Smith’s last three receptions came on sequential plays to open up the last meaningful Titans drive of the game, with his best play being a 23-yard reception over the middle of the field.