HOUSTON – The Titans lost 26-3 to the Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest:
The sight of Titans quarterback Will Levis being carted off the field isn't what anyone wanted to see on Sunday, but it played out in the second quarter. Levis was sacked, and injured again, when Texans defensive end Jerry Hughes broke free. After initially limping to the sideline, Levis left the field on a cart, and he did not return. Coach Mike Vrabel said Levis is dealing with a different injury than the left ankle injury he'd been dealing with this season. The team called it a (right) foot injury instead. "We'll see how it is," Vrabel said of Levis after the game. "I don't think it is anything that is going to be too, too serious. He couldn't finish the game. So, we'll see where things are tomorrow."
Special Teams Blunder
The Titans made a costly blunder on special teams in the first quarter, after appearing to force a three-and-out on defense. Caleb Murphy ran into Houston's punter on a 4th and 5 at the 11, which gave the Texans a first down. The Texans then used the momentum to put together a 13-play, 94-yard drive and took a 10-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback C.J. Stroud to tight end Brevin Jordan. "I'm trying to get away from the punter," Murphy said. "But you have to know when you are getting close. Know your surroundings, and be better. … My (job) is to help on special teams, and I have to be better next week. Don't touch the punter. I think that's as simple as it gets. Just do my job and don't do dumb stuff that hurts the team."
1K Club X 2
There wasn't a lot to celebrate on Sunday, but a pair of Titans reached some impressive milestones. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had seven catches for 72 yards in the contest, eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the seventh time in his career. "Of course, going over 1,000 means a lot to me," Hopkins said. "No matter what the record says, you have to have a little pride and take accountability on what you can do, and what you can control, and that is my mindset." Running back Derrick Henry, meanwhile, went over 1,000 rushing yards in a season for the fifth time in his career. "Stats are stats," said Henry, who managed 42 yards on Sunday. "Us not playing as well as we need to to be able to win games is more important. If you do what you are supposed to do, the other stats, everything else will take care of itself."
Levis was injured on the play he was sacked on, and when quarterback Ryan Tannehill entered the contest, he was sacked five times in the game. The Titans have allowed their quarterbacks to be sacked 62 times in 16 games this season. Levis has been sacked 28 times, while Tannehill has been sacked 30 times. Malik Willis was sacked four times in a brief stint earlier this season. "It's very exhausting, especially for it to be a sack-fumble-touchdown," tackle Dillon Radunz said of seeing Levis getting injured again. "We have to be way better than that. It's the same opponent that hurt him last time. We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot like that." Said Vrabel: "We have to be able to protect our quarterback if you want to throw the ball in this league."
The Titans didn't make nearly enough plays on Sunday, and they sure didn't lose because of one of the missed opportunities. But the Titans missed out on a great chance to get an early spark on their open possession, but it fell by the wayside when receiver Treylon Burks let a deep ball go off his hands after he'd gotten behind defenders deep downfield. Instead of a 50-plus yard gain, the Titans went 3-and-out on their opening possession and things just seemed off the whole day. "I would have liked to have had the early shot," Vrabel said, while pointing out a lot of other miscues by his squad. "It's just not complementary enough, and mistakes."
In addition to Levis, the Titans saw several other players leave with injuries. Guard Daniel Brunskill (ankle), receiver Colton Dowell (knee), tight end Kevin Rader and cornerback Roger McCreary all left the game with injuries. McCreary returned, but Dowell was in the locker room with a knee brace on after immediately headed to the locker room. The Titans now have 17 players on Injured Reserve. "We'll go by a case-by-case basis later on," Vrabel said. "But when the quarterback gets hit, nothing good is going to happen from it."