57 thoughts I had during the Texans’ win over the Titans

So that was something. The Texans had its way with a Tennessee Titans team that was lauded all week for its smashmouth, punishing style of play and its 2-1 record so far this season.

The 57-14 win over Tennessee Sunday afternoon was everything that Texans wanted to see and more. And in the spirit of one of several records Houston set with its performance, here are 57 thoughts I had while watching the game in section 620 and in the aftermath of the bloodbath.

  1. Deshaun Watson is the real deal.
  2. The numbers only tell part of the story. 25-34 passing (73.5%) for 283 yards, four passing touchdowns plus one more rushing, a passer rating of 125.0 and a 98.3 QBR, which equals the best quarterback performance of any player this season.
  3. Watson also shows remarkable poise, revealing a mental fortitude that would have been obvious to anyone who watched him play in college.
  4. His ability to shake off a mistake was on display in the exact middle of the game.
  5. Watson threw a bad interception, his second in two games tossing a pass into no-man’s land. DeAndre Hopkins was wide open in the left side of the end zone and Watson just threw it short. Luckily, the play occurred with just 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter, the Texans were leading 30-14 at the time, and Tennessee returned it to just their own nine-yard-line, taking a knee on the next play to go into halftime.
  6. How did Watson respond? By leading a back-breaking 14-play, 75-yard drive that took up more than half the third quarter and culminated with his third touchdown pass, a 10-yard back-shoulder throw to Will Fuller.
  7. The entire game, right out of the gate, felt like the Texans’ to lose.
  8. J.J. Watt may not have recorded a tackle, but his fingerprints were all over this game, beginning on the first play of the game.
  9. Classic J.J. Swatt. Facing double teams all game, Watt stuck his big left hand into the air as Mariota released a pass short towards Delanie Walker and knocked it down.
  10. Much ado will be made as Watt had another game without a sack in his return to football, but that does not mean he isn’t having an impact or being disruptive.
  11. Watt faces a double team and sometimes even a chip from a tight end or running back on every single pass play. The attention paid to Watt creates opportunities for his teammates to make a play.
  12. One of those teammates that stepped up today was Dylan Cole, an undrafted rookie middle linebacker out of Missouri State who is only on the field because of Brian Cushing’s suspension.
  13. Cole is a tackling machine and led the team with five solo and 3 assisted tackles, including a tackle for loss and a sack in the fourth quarter.
  14. Cole’s pick-six in the fourth quarter broke the 50-point mark for the Texans for the first time in franchise history.
  15. My family has had season tickets since the Texans were founded in 2002. Many of the people sitting around us in section 620 have been there since the beginning as well.
  16. Scott and his wife have sat to our left for 15 years now. After the game’s first touchdown, a speed option with Watson pitching to Miller for the score, Scott turns to me and sarcastically says, “wait, a quarterback can do like that?”
  17. Texans fans have literally never seen a quarterback like Watson wearing deep steel blue, liberty white and battle red.
  18. Matt Schaub. David Carr. Sage Rosenfels. Brock Osweiler. Brian Hoyer. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Case Keenum. T.J. Yates. Ryan Mallett. Tony Banks. In order, that is the top 10 leaders in passing yards as a Houston Texan.
  19. Watson needs just 105 more rushing yards to become the Texans’ all-time rushing leader among quarterbacks. Go ahead and let that sink in.
  20. The way Schaub flamed out in Houston makes people forget how effective he was from 2009-2012. But Schaub never had the potential that Watson does.
  21. Schaub always had a tendency to stare his receivers down, especially at the end of his time in Houston. And at the ripe young age of 22, Watson is already looking off safeties.
  22. On his first pass attempt of the game, Watson looked right and stared down DeAndre Hopkins, moving the Titans’ safety to that side of the field. He then fired a pass to Bruce Ellington running open up the seam on the left side of the field, a 35-yard gain that set up the previously mentioned Miller touchdown.
  23. Lamar Miller had himself a game, with one rushing touchdown, one receiving touchdown and 131 total yards.
  24. Of course, this was the week that I benched him on my fantasy football team.
  25. The Texans racked up 173 yards on the ground, averaging 4.1 yards per carry, with Miller and D’Onta Foreman combining for 130.
  26. Houston’s success on the ground was in large part due to an improving offensive line, led by second-year center Nick Martin.
  27. Martin spent the afternoon putting Titans defenders on their butts. He is already looking like a Pro Bowl center in the first four games of his career.
  28. Meanwhile, Duane Brown, still holding out for a new contract, seems to have lost any sort of leverage he might have gained following the Week 1 embarrassing loss to Jacksonville.
  29. While Brown is clearly an upgrade over Chris Clark at left tackle, he was not missed Sunday afternoon.
  30. One opportunity for improvement for Watson is his handling of pressure.
  31. There were a few moments when instead of simply throwing the ball out of bounds, he tried to make one more man miss before lofting a pass into an empty green space.
  32. I understand wanting to just make a play, but throw. the ball. out. of. bounds.
  33. On the flip side, Titans fans will anxiously await test results on Marcus Mariota’s hamstring.
  34. Anyone pointing to Mariota’s absence in the second half to explain the Titans’ loss just didn’t watch the game. Houston was up 37-14 before Matt Cassel stepped onto the field.
  35. Andre Hal had two nearly identical interceptions of Mariota.
  36. Each pass was on a corner route, and Mariota put a little too much air on the ball. Hal did a great job of high-pointing the pass and simply wanting the ball more than his opponent.
  37. Jadeveon Clowney had a strip sack of Matt Cassel in the second half but was culpable on Mariota’s first touchdown scamper.
  38. Clowney bit badly on the fake to DeMarco Murray, and Mariota was off to the races. There aren’t many players who can chase him down in the open field.
  39. After Mariota’s second touchdown run cut the Texans’ lead from 21 points down to 10, NRG Stadium was feeling a little tame.
  40. Chris Thompson, fresh off the practice squad, put to rest any doubt that today was the Texans’ day, taking the ensuing kickoff 42 yards.
  41. It took Watson just two plays to score again.
  42. Scouts were wary of Watson’s arm strength coming out of college, though there were no problems in that department today.
  43. The big play on that two-play touchdown drive was a bomb to Will Fuller that drew a pass interference call in the endzone. The pass was absolutely on the money, hitting Fuller in the helmet as he was taken down.
  44. Fuller’s return was huge for this offense, as he contributed two touchdowns on four catches.
  45. The deep threat Fuller poses unlocked coverage towards DeAndre Hopkins.
  46. Hopkins caught 10 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, his first game with at least 10 catches since Oct. 18, 2015.
  47. In Titans’ territory on the first drive of the third quarter, the Texans faced a fourth-and-inches. Instead of running up the middle with Watson or Miller, Bill O’Brien called for a quick curl to Hopkins.
  48. There is no way that play call happens before today in the Bill O’Brien era.
  49. The prior Texans’ record for points scored in a game was 45, against the Titans in 2015.
  50. The Texans bested that record with a 40-yard field goal from Ka’imi Fairbairn with 8:39 left in the fourth quarter.
  51. Fairbairn has been fantastic this season, 9-9 on field goal attempts and 11-12 on extra point attempts. There was clearly a reason he was stashed on injured reserve last season.
  52. Houston outgained Tennessee 445 to 195 and forced five turnovers on defense.
  53. The Texans dominated the ball, spending 39:41 on offense.
  54. Houston had 33 first downs, compared to nine for Tennessee.
  55. Going into this game, we weren’t sure which Texans’ offense would show up, the struggling version that gutted out a victory in Cincinatti or the high-octane offense that had its way with the New England Patriots.
  56. Watson and the Texans’ offense picked up right where they left off against the Patriots and put on a show like this town hasn’t seen since the days of Warren Moon.
  57. Coming to town next weekend are the currently undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, who sport a fearsome defense which will pose the toughest challenge yet for Watson. We’ll see how he fares.
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