Well, there's no more rationalizing left to do, no delusional attempts to apply CPR to this Texans season and kid ourselves into thinking something completely unthinkable (like this team making the playoffs without Deshaun Watson under center) might happen. The Texans' 2017 season functionally ended on Sunday afternoon, 24-13 at the hands of the Tennessee Titans, and appropriately, it was a Tom Savage interception in the waning moments that was the ultimate kill shot.
After the loss, the Texans now sit at 4-8 on the season (well on their way to going 4-12, it would seem), and you'll no longer need to worry about seeing them in on-screen graphics when television pundits surmise which AFC teams still have a playoff pulse, for the Texans do not. They are toast, just playing out the string.
Still, we must find winners and losers in yesterday's carnage, so let's examine the effort....
4. Houston area doctors
Once again, the Texans are making sure that there is no shortage of work for sports doctors, orthopedists, and neurologists around the Houston area. A team that was already missing Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, and Whitney Mercilus (to go with several others whose seasons are either over or on hold with injuries) lost four players to concussions on Sunday — C.J. Fiedorowicz, Braxton Miller, Alfred Blue, and Jelani Jenkins — and lost another wide receiver (Bruce Ellington) to a hamstring. At this point, the question becomes "Which happens first — the Texans finish up 16 regular season games or the Texans just run out of players?" I've never seen anything close to the medical bad luck the Texans have experienced this season.
3. Tom Savage (for 59 minutes)
Sunday was, far and away, Tom Savage's best game as a pro, which probably says more about his career as a pro than any sort of other-worldliness to his game on Sunday. The good, though? Well, Savage threw for a ton of yards (368 yards), skippered an offense that was 8 for 16 converting on third down, and frankly did enough to win this specific game if Ka'imi Fairbairn could have made a couple kicks. The bad? We will get to that in the "LOSERS" section.
2. The Pontiac Silverdome
Sunday was supposed to be the day that the Detroit Lions' former home was supposed to come tumbling down amidst numerous dynamite blasts. Well, in an outcome that was perfectly symbolic of the futility Detroit has experienced historically as a football city, the implosion of the Silverdome was a failure, with "wiring issues" being the reported culprit, although I choose to blame "Detroit being Detroit" as the reason that the city couldn't even collapse a stadium successfully ....
1. DeAndre Hopkins' All Pro campaign
If you're looking for a metaphor for the Texans' offense since Watson went down with his ACL tear, look no further than yesterday's wide receiver depth chart — at one point on Sunday, Hopkins was literally the only healthy wide receiver on the roster, which is a microcosm for how this offense has felt over the last month, a veritable one man show of DeAndre Hopkins getting deep, DeAndre Hopkins tiptoeing along the sidelines, and DeAndre Hopkins moving the chains with catch after catch. Barring the health bug snaring him somehow, Hopkins is a lock for the Pro Bowl and is making a viable run at first-team All Pro honors.
4. Ka'imi Fairbairn
This is a simple one — if you're a first-year placekicker, you can't be missing field goals, especially 28 yard field goals after your team has held the ball for nearly nine minutes in the third quarter. After a solid start to the season, Fairbairn has now missed four of his last eight field goal attempts, a problem that is magnified with the red zone issues this team has with Savage under center right about now.
3. Texans bettors
So you're a diehard Houston Texan fans that likes to not only root for your team to win, but you like to back them in the betting market as well. Depending on when you got down on Sunday's game, you were probably catching anywhere from 6.5 to 8 points. Either way, even after Tom Savage threw his final, fatal interception, you thought you were at least going to win your bet, as the Texans were a few Titan kneel downs away from losing 17-13, a straight up loss but an against-the-spread cover.
Then this happened....
Final score — Titans 24, Texans 13. Texans bettors, crushed.
Full disclosure, my radio station (along with a handful of other stations here in Houston), we were recently sold by CBS to Entercom. It's a transaction that we are all very excited about in our building, as Entercom is a true radio company, as opposed to CBS, which is a gigantic media conglomerate who had started treating radio as a distraction from its other business segments. Personally, I am also excited because now I can express my true feelings on how utterly clueless CBS is in executing a simple football broadcast. More specifically, it's infuriating how few replays CBS chooses to show during a game. Basically, unless the play is being reviewed or involves some sort of scoring, there is a very good chance you will not see a replay. Freaking terrible. (You may be saying to yourself "Well, Sean, why don't you just replay things on the DVR," which is a fair point, except our TV in the 610 studio does not have DVR capability, another wrong we hope is righted by our new corporate moms and dads from Entercom.)
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1. Tom Savage (in big spots)
There are some hard truths to reconcile with Tom Savage's game. On the one hand, it is true that he has improved markedly this season, and that he has done more good things in the last two games than he had in the rest of the body of work that is his NFL career. However, on the other hand, here is the bottom line — in the four losses that Savage has quarterbacked since Watson's injury, his careless play has directly led to those losses:
WEEK 9: Final play of the game, Savage is strip sacked in Colts territory on fourth down. Texans lose 20-14.
WEEK 10: Leading 7-6 and driving the field late in the first half, Savage throws a red zone pick, allowing the Rams a drive to get three points and the lead at half. Two more Savage turnovers in the second half would lead to ten more points. Texans lose 33-7.
WEEK 12: In a game where the Texans had the ball twice in the final six minutes trailing by one score, Savage fumbled while down four points, and threw a pick to seal the game for Baltimore while down seven. Texans lose 23-16.
WEEK 13: Down 17-13 with 1:13 remaining at the Titans 29 yard line, Savage throws into double coverage in the end zone. The pass is picked off. Texans lose 24-13.
Some quarterbacks do enough good to overcome this ungodly amount of bad. Tom Savage is not one of them. Not even close.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.