HOUSTON — The Tennessee Titans entered Sunday’s game against the Texans looking for their first win in Houston since 2012.
They left searching for answers as to what went wrong after a 57-14 loss that extended their skid in Houston to six games.
“It was probably the most embarrassing loss I’ve took in my career, in my football life,” safety Kevin Byard said. “Everything that could have went wrong went wrong today.”
The Titans made things look easy for rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, who accounted for five touchdowns on a day the Texans set a franchise record for most points.
“We didn’t do a very good job of stopping them, defensively, but their quarterback played extremely well,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “I was thoroughly impressed with him … a number of times, we had him on the run and he escaped or made great throws. We’ve got to do a better job.”
The Titans allowed the Texans to gain 445 yards and the second-most first downs in franchise history with 33. The game got so out of hand late that Houston coach Bill O’Brien replaced Watson with backup Tom Savage.
Tennessee’s defense wasn’t helped by an offense which turned over the ball five times. Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions before halftime and Matt Cassel threw two more picks and lost a fumble after replacing him in the second half when Mariota left with a hamstring injury.
Mariota threw an interception on Tennessee’s first possession and the Texans capitalized when Lamar Miller ran 2 yards for a score. Watson and Houston’s offense kept rolling after that, scoring touchdowns on the next two possessions to put the Titans in a 21-0 hole early in the second quarter.
“That was a total team loss all the way around, including coaching,” Mularkey said. “They obviously played a better football game than we did … so tough lesson learned for us. It may be a part of the process we need to have something like that happen for us.”
The Titans struggled to deal not only with Watson’s scrambling ability, but also had trouble covering DeAndre Hopkins and speedy receiver Will Fuller, who made his season debut on Sunday after missing the first three games with a broken collarbone.
Rookie cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft, had a particularly tough day. The Titans had cut the lead to 10 points on a TD run by Mariota in the second quarter when Fuller beat Jackson badly and Jackson threw him down in the end zone, drawing a 45-yard pass interference penalty. Watson scored on a 1-yard run on the next play to extend Houston’s lead to 30-14.
“Unnecessary to do that,” Mularkey said of the penalty. “Just need better coverage.”
Mularkey is looking for his team to learn and shake off this loss as the Titans prepare to host Miami next Sunday. He pointed to the way the Jaguars responded to a 21-point loss to the Titans by beating the Ravens 44-7 the following week.
“Came back strong,” he said. “I see that as a good example.”