For Texans to win in 2020, games will likely have to be shootouts

HOUSTON -- After the Houston Texans blew a 24-0 lead in last season's playoffs and allowed 51 points to the Kansas City Chiefs, it seemed clear that improving their defense was a big priority in the offseason.

But it hasn't shown on the field. In the Texans’ 42-36 overtime loss to the unbeaten Tennessee Titans on Sunday, the Texans had a golden opportunity to turn their season around, but Houston’s defense allowed 601 yards and allowed Tennessee to score twice in the fourth quarter after quarterback Deshaun Watson had given the Texans the lead. The Titans drove right down the field for the winning touchdown in overtime as well.

“This one really hurts,” defensive end J.J. Watt said. “Offense played great. Offense played great, gave us opportunities to win the game, and we did not finish the game on defense. We had multiple opportunities and we didn't do it. And as leader of the defense, I put that squarely on my shoulders. So this one is very difficult to take.”

Not only did the Texans’ defense allow running back Derrick Henry to score a 94-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter -- something interim head coach Romeo Crennel called “a little demoralizing” -- but it also allowed the Titans to score on a nine-play drive with less than two minutes left in regulation to ultimately tie the game and force overtime.

While the offense struggled in the Texans’ first four games, Watson has played especially well in the last two: a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the overtime loss to the Titans. Unless something changes going forward, it appears the Texans’ best option for a win is a shootout, depending on a big game from Watson.

“[Watson] had a great performance, and he does unbelievable things on the field,” Crennel said. “... It is tough when you are not able to take advantage of a performance like that. And that's the thing that we wanted to do. ... So we gotta go back and hopefully he can have more performances like that and then defensively we can do a better job to help him out.”

In the last two games, Watson has thrown for 694 yards and seven touchdowns. When asked if he felt the offense had to score a lot of points to get a win going forward, Watson said, “We always want to score touchdowns when we touch the ball.

“That's our idea, regardless of what the situation of the game is,” Watson said. “You know, my idea is to get points on the board every drive, and if we don't have that mentality, then we're doing something wrong. So we gotta continue to do that and score as many points as we want to. If we could score 100 points, I would. It's nothing with the team or anything like that.”

The defense did make its first interception of the season and Watt forced a fumble on a strip sack, but Crennel knows for the Texans (1-5) to be respectable on the scoreboard for the rest of the season, they need to see improvement from the defense.

“It wasn't good enough,” Crennel said. “There were some good plays, but overall it wasn't good enough.”