NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury in the Titans' 45-21 road loss to the Texans Sunday at NRG Stadium.
Mettenberger took a big hit from J.J. Watt and did not return to the game. He said postgame that it was a sprained AC joint and he'll have an MRI Monday. Mettenberger finished the game with 184 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception before leaving the contest. Jake Locker came on in relief and threw for 91 yards, one touchdown to Nate Washington and two interceptions.
The Titans QB wasn't the only member of the team to leave Sunday's game. Justin Hunter was taken to the hospital with a lacerated spleen he suffered on Tennessee's first possession. The receiver will stay the night in Houston. The injury occurred on a big hit on the Titans' first play from scrimmage. Hunter returned to the game, but was forced to leave as the pain worsened.
Kendall Wright's seven catches for 132 yards and one touchdown, a 36-yard score to begin the third quarter, represented one of the lone bright spots for the Titans on Sunday.
Houston posted some gaudy offensive numbers. Ryan Fitzpatrick set a new Texans franchise record with six touchdown passes. DeAndre Hopkins torched the Titans for 238 yards and two touchdowns, catching all nine of his targets.
To add insult to injury, J.J. Watt was on the receiving end of one of Fitzpatrick's touchdown passes. Watt now has three touchdown receptions this season and five total scores. His claim for MVP gained serious steam Sunday, as he added two sacks and eight quarterback hits.
Time of Possession – TEN: 26:44 HOU: 33:16
Net Passing Yards – TEN: 237 HOU: 358
Turnovers – TEN: 4 HOU: 1
Third Down Efficiency – TEN: 3/9 (33%) HOU: 11/17 (65%)
• Nate Washington's five receptions gave him 400 for his career.
• Kendall Wright's 36-yard touchdown gave him five for the season, a new personal high.
Five Things to Watch
1. Protect Mettenberger
The Titans sorely missed their starters on the offensive line. Between both quarterbacks, the Texans racked up 12 total quarterback hits.
- Air It Out**
Mettenberger and Locker combined for 275 passing yards. Mettenberger's six-play, 80 yard touchdown drive to begin the third quarter indicated that number would likely have been much higher if the QB wasn't forced to leave the game.
3. The Third Down Battle
The struggles continued on both sides of the football. The Titans went 3-9-33% with Houston going 11-17-65%.
4. Contain Arian Foster
Foster piled up 35 yards on Houston's opening touchdown drive, but finished with just 79 yards on 19 carries – definitely a step in the right direction for Tennessee's defense.
5. Win the Turnover Battle
Minus 3 for the Titans on Sunday. Tennessee had three interceptions and a lost fumble while only coming up with one takeaway – Jason McCourty's forced fumble, recovery and ensuing touchdown run.