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Texans beat Titans in key divisional game, 34-17

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Playoff hopes are getting pretty dim.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans started out hot for once, only to see things crumble pretty quickly. Houston poured it on after the first quarter, putting the Titans’ playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. Here’s how it played out.

Fast start for the Titans

The Titans got a gift on their opening drive, drawing a defensive pass interference call on Justin Reid. That gave them a 30+ yard bonus, putting them in striking distance early. The drive stalled quickly after, however. Ryan Succop got the Titans on the board with a 3-0 lead.

After a quick stop by the defense, Marcus Mariota came back with a quick strike to Jonnu Smith, who turned upfield and ran all the way to the endzone for six more. Just like that, Tennessee was out to a 10-0 lead.

A quick answer(s) by the Texans

The Texans came out running the football with Lamar Miller with great success. Houston’s offensive line, which hasn’t been very good this season, was taking to to the Titans’ front. Miller got the Texans in position to answer, and Demaryius Thomas cashed in with a touchdown.

After a quick three and out, Houston got the ball back and did more of the same. They walked right down the field, capping this drive off with a Deshaun Watson touchdown run to grab a 14-10 lead.

A 4th and 1 call gone bad

Marcus Mariota — who was a perfect 12-12 in the first half — once again got the Titans to the redzone early in the second quarter. Dion Lewis was stopped just short of the first down inside the five yard line, but Mike Vrabel opted to go for it. With the way Houston’s offense was operating, it was the right call.

What was questionable was the play call, which was a fullback dive out of a jumbo set to Luke Stocker, who has never carried the football in the NFL before. Needless to say, that ended poorly.

Lamar Miller instantly made the Titans pay, ripping off a 97 yard touchdown to extend the Texans’ lead to 21-10. That sequence felt like the nail in the coffin, despite the Titans only being down 11 points.

Corey Davis keeps the Titans alive

After seeing the Texans add two field goals, Marcus Mariota faced a 17 point deficit late in the third quarter. Finally, the Titans hit an explosive play of their own. Corey Davis scored on a double move down the field, which was Mariota’s 16 straight completion of the night. That score brought the Titans within ten points.

The defense got the stop they needed, but the Titans went three and out to follow after a J.J. Watt sack. Watt was matched up one on one with Jonnu Smith on the play. That went about as well as you would expect it to go.

Watson finishes the job

Deshaun Watson broke off a long scramble to flip the field. However, he appeared to fumble on the play. The ball was definitely moving, but he was ruled down by the officials. Vrabel challenged, but the officials kept the call as it was on the field.

Two plays later, Watson found Thomas for his second touchdown of the night. That would make it 34-17 with 8:15 to play.

That would do it. The Titans fall to 5-6 and the AFC South is likely out of reach now. They’ve got some winnable games down the stretch, but this loss was a huge hit to their playoff chances.