News & Analysis

NFL Week 6 PFF ReFocused: Tennessee Titans 42, Houston Texans 36

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) celebrates the 42-36 overtime win over the Houston Texans at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Gw54744

It looked as though the Tennessee Titans were going to control this football game early on, but it turned into a shootout down the stretch with big plays coming from both sides. The Houston Texans wrestled away control of the game late only to see Ryan Tannehill lead the Titans down the field on a drive capped by a game-tying touchdown pass to his top target — A.J. Brown — in the waning seconds of regulation. Tennessee was able to cap things off with a touchdown on the opening drive of overtime and remain one of two undefeated teams in the AFC along with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

STORY OF THE GAME

Both quarterbacks played well in this game, but it was Tannehill who got the ball to end the fourth quarter and to start overtime. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as the lead he helped build evaporated without the Texans’ offense getting another opportunity to put points on the board. Sometimes, games like these come down to who gets the ball last. Neither defense was offering a whole lot of resistance.

Granted, Houston’s defense isn’t exactly a juggernaut, but it’s hard not to be impressed with how the Titans' offense has been playing this season. Built on the outside-zone run game and play action, Arthur Smith’s scheme has created an offensive environment where Tannehill has thrived. He has developed into one of the league’s best passers since taking over the starting job from Marcus Mariota last season, and the PFF grades reflect that.

For as well as Tannehill played, it’s hard to ignore the performance that Derrick Henry put forth. A 90-plus yard touchdown run will always pad the stats, but Henry was a very difficult man to bring down all game. On the initial count, he ran for 174 yards after contact and forced eight missed tackles on the ground. In overtime, Henry added a 53-yard reception that put them into Texans’ territory and capped things off with a wildcat touchdown run to ice the game.

His combination of size, power and speed when he gets a full head of steam in the open field is a problem for opposing defenses, and the Texans found that out several times today.

ROOKIE WATCH

Neither team has relied heavily on rookie contributions this season, and this game was no different. Kristian Fulton led the way in snaps for rookies, with 52 defensive snaps, primarily playing out of the slot. Pending review, Fulton allowed just over 50 yards into his coverage in the game. That includes a perfectly placed Deshaun Watson pass to Randall Cobb in the corner of the end zone to beat Fulton for a go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.

Larrell Murchison didn’t play as often as he did last weekend in the absence of Jeffery Simmons, but he did get eight uneventful snaps here. The only other Titans rookie to see playing time was wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, who didn’t record any official receptions, but he did bring in a two-point conversion that put Tennessee up six points early in the fourth quarter. He ran nine routes in the game.

For Houston, Ross Blacklock was the only rookie to see the field. It was a solid performance on just over 20 defensive snaps, highlighted by a nice tackle on Henry in the open field on a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage.

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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