Mettenberger struggles in loss to Houston

The Texans’ defense looked good Sunday against the Titans, en route to a 20-6 victory.

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Quarterback Zach Mettenberger started his second game in a row, as Marcus Mariota was still out nursing a sprained MCL. Mettenberger’s competition was a struggling Houston defense, which gave up four 50+ yard touchdowns and allowed over 500 yards of total offense in a blowout loss to Miami. But the Texans’ defense looked good Sunday against the Titans, en route to a 20-6 victory.

The Titans offense continued to struggle but were first to get on the board with a 35-yard field goal by Ryan Succop. The Texans responded with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Brian Hoyer to DeAndre Hopkins for the game’s first touchdown.

The Texans then got the ball back after Bishop Sankey fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Houston was able to recover and came away with a field goal, which increased their lead to seven.

Photo by Casey Fleser
Photo by Casey Fleser

Both offenses looked terrible and failed to extend drives. Even when the Titans were set up with good field position, they could not come away with any points. Dexter McCluster had a nice 37-yard punt return to set up Tennessee in field goal range at the Texans’ 28-yard line late in the second quarter. But in three plays, the Titans went backwards 19 yards and were forced to punt. Both teams were forced to punt five times in the first half.

The Titans went into the locker room down 10-3 at halftime.

The Titans only managed 68 total yards in the first half and Mettenberger only accounted for 33 of them. Hoyer outplayed him, throwing for 121 yards and a touchdown in the first 30 minutes of action.

The Titans’ last score of the game came with five minutes left in the third quarter, a 44-yard field goal by Succop, which was set up by a 28-yard run by Antonio Andrews. The Texans responded on the following drive with a 42-yard touchdown reception by former Titan Nate Washington.

From there, the wheels really began to fall off the Titans’ wagon. An errant Mettenberger pass intended for Dorial Green-Beckham was intercepted. The next possession, Mettenberger was sacked by J.J. Watt and fumbled the ball, giving the Texans possession inside the Titans’ 10-yard line.

The Texans’ defense rebounded from its terrible week in Miami with a franchise record seven sacks, which were shared between only two players; Watt and Whitney Mercilus, with 3.5 apiece.

Mettenberger finished with 171 yards on 22-for-31 passing with an interception. Andrews was the leading rusher with 64 yards on 16 carries and Delanie Walker was again the Titans’ leading receiver with 62 yards on six receptions.

Brian Hoyer finished with 235 yards on 23-for-35 passing and had two touchdowns. Hopkins was Houston’s leading receiver with 94 yards on eight receptions and also had a touchdown.

The Titans hope to have starting quarterback Mariota back next week as the they travel to New Orleans to take on the 4-4 Saints. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET.

Edited by Nathan Odom