1:00 PM ET, November 30, 2014
NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Sunday Blitz: Titans-Texans Recap
If the Texans are to make a last-ditched bid for the postseason, they'll have to succeed through another quarterback change as Fitzpatrick resumes the starting role Sunday against the visiting Tennessee Titans.
Houston (5-6) stands as a longshot in the playoff picture but has a chance to put itself in the mix with four AFC South games remaining. One is against first-place Indianapolis, which is 7-5, but two are against league-worst Jacksonville and this one is at home against a Tennessee team which has lost five in a row.
However, any potential playoff run will be without quarterback Ryan Mallett, who suffered a torn right pectoral muscle in last Sunday's 22-13 loss to Cincinnati and will miss the rest of the season.
Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of Mallett following a Week 9 loss to Philadelphia in which he completed 13 of 27 passes for 203 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He won his first two starts without getting picked off or being sacked, but he had eight interceptions and was sacked 20 times in his next seven, going 2-5.
"I don't think so," Fitzpatrick said when asked whether it is difficult to move from the bench to the starter position. "I think it's like riding a bike.
"That's what being a quarterback is. That's what kind of my whole career has been."
Fitzpatrick's only win in his past five games came against the Titans, for whom he made nine starts last season. That's also the only time in his last seven games he didn't commit a turnover, going 19 of 35 for 227 yards and a touchdown in a 30-16 road win Oct. 26.
Neither Fitzpatrick nor Mallett had been particularly successful in igniting a Texans passing attack that features receivers Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Houston ranks 28th with 207.5 passing yards per game.
The primary source of Houston's offense has been the running game, consisting of Arian Foster and Alfred Blue. Foster, averaging 102.8 rushing yards per game and 5.1 per carry, has missed Houston's last two games with a groin injury but could return Sunday.
"I think there is a potential that he could play," coach Bill O'Brien said. "He feels better today. Hopefully he'll be out there at practice. Hopefully that's something that he'll be able to help us on game day."
Blue has performed admirably in Foster's absence, rushing 52 times over the past two contests for 202 yards. The Texans are averaging an AFC-best 137.3 rushing yards, and they're facing a Titans run defense which has allowed more than 150 in four straight games.
Tennessee (2-9) also is badly struggling to run the ball with 88.8 yards per game. Rookie Bishop Sankey has not surpassed 61 rushing yards in any game despite getting the bulk of the workload in recent weeks, providing little support to Zach Mettenberger.
The rookie quarterback has thrown for seven touchdowns and an average of 271.5 yards in four games since taking over as the starter, but he's lost them all. He completed 20 of 39 passes for 345 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in last Sunday's 43-24 loss to Philadelphia.
"I think I remember Peyton Manning being 3-13 his first year," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "Not that I'm saying that it's OK not to win games. We need to win a game as a football team, and that would certainly help with Zach, but he's making progress in areas that you like to see from a young quarterback."
Mettenberger's starting debut came against Houston, and he struggled in the first half but would finish 27 of 41 for 299 yards and two TDs.
J.J. Watt sacked him twice and imitated the rookie by taking a mock "selfie." Mettenberger had posted photos of himself to his social media accounts prior to his first start.
"It's just kind of a reminder, this is the National Football League, not high school," Watt said following the Week 8 win. "Welcome to the show."
Tennessee enters the rematch having dropped nine of 10 and mired in its longest losing streak since a six-game skid in 2010.
"It's not a lot of fun," Whisenhunt said. "I enjoy working with these guys. I enjoy being here. The fans have been good with me, but it's not fun.
"I love doing this job, but you still feel sick when you don't do what you're supposed to do."
The Titans have lost four of the last five meetings, including the past two in Houston.
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|Avg Points Allowed||3.8||1.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||TEN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||TEN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Tennessee leads 15-11|
|Oct 26, 2014||TEN 16, HOU 30|
|Dec 29, 2013||TEN 16, HOU 10|
|Sep 15, 2013||TEN 24, @HOU 30|
|Dec 2, 2012||TEN 10, HOU 24|
|Sep 30, 2012||TEN 14, @HOU 38|
|Jan 1, 2012||TEN 23, @HOU 22|
|Oct 23, 2011||TEN 7, HOU 41|
|Dec 19, 2010||TEN 31, HOU 17|
|Nov 28, 2010||TEN 0, @HOU 20|
|Nov 23, 2009||TEN 20, @HOU 17|
|Sep 20, 2009||TEN 31, HOU 34|
|Dec 14, 2008||TEN 12, @HOU 13|
|Sep 21, 2008||TEN 31, HOU 12|
|Dec 2, 2007||TEN 28, HOU 20|
|Oct 21, 2007||TEN 38, @HOU 36|
|Dec 10, 2006||TEN 26, @HOU 20|
|Oct 29, 2006||TEN 28, HOU 22|
|Dec 11, 2005||TEN 13, HOU 10|
|Oct 9, 2005||TEN 34, @HOU 20|
|Nov 28, 2004||TEN 21, @HOU 31|
|Oct 17, 2004||TEN 10, HOU 20|
|Dec 21, 2003||TEN 27, @HOU 24|
|Oct 12, 2003||TEN 38, HOU 17|
|Dec 29, 2002||TEN 13, @HOU 3|
|Nov 10, 2002||TEN 17, HOU 10|
Ryan Fitzpatrick will start as Ryan Mallett suffered a torn pectoral muscle that ended his season last week. Fitzpatrick is 2-5 in his last 7 starts after going 2-0. He's thrown 8 interceptions and has been sacked 20 times after not throwing a pick and not being sacked in those first 2 games.[+]
The one thing QB in the NFL cannot do is turnover the ball on 1st down. Two QB who recently got their starting jobs back for different reasons have a huge issue with this, Ryan Fitzpatrick with the season-ending injury to Ryan Mallett and Geno Smith, with the benching of Michael Vick.[+]
From Elias: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Harvard) is the 2nd Ivy League QB with 6 Pass TD in a single game in NFL history. The other was Sid Luckman (Columbia) , who threw 7 Pass TD on Nov. 14, 1943.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 4 pass TD Sunday on passes that traveled no more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. He's the 5th QB this season with 4 such TD in a game. Fitzpatrick also threw 2 pass TD on passes thrown 30+ yards downfield Sunday. He's just the 3rd QB this season with multiple TD on those passes in a game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (HOU): 2 TD passes in 1st quarter; 4th time with 2 pass TD in the 1st quarter in his career. (1st since Week 3 2012)
J.J. Watt's 5 touchdowns are the story, but he hasn't stopped there. He has 11.5 sacks, and leads the NFL with 36 QB hits, 7 batted passes and 5 fumbles recovered.[+]
J.J. Watt This Season
Jake Locker took over at QB for the injured Zach Mettennberger Sunday. Both quarterbacks threw an Int on their first pass attempt Sunday.
Home teams outscored road teams 72-16 in the 1st quarter of the 1p ET kickoffs.
From Elias: J.J. Watt is the first player with 3 offensive TD and 2 defensive TD in a single season -- regardless of position since Joe Golding in 1948 (4 Rec TD & 2 Int Ret TD)
This is J.J. Watt's 2nd game in the last 3 weeks with a forced fumble, fumble recovery AND receiving TD. No other player in the last 5 seasons had one.
ESPN Stats & Information