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Here’s what we’ve learned from Texans-Titans game Sunday

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 15:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans shakes hands after the game with Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Texans defeated the Titans 24-21.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 15: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans shakes hands after the game with Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Texans defeated the Titans 24-21. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) (2019 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – The Houston Texans are one win away from winning the AFC South and it’s all thanks to an impressive win as an underdog. Of course, the Texans could have avoided the gravity of the game by winning last week against the Broncos, a game where they were a 9-point favorite.

It was a complete effort from all three phases of the ball.

After the game, coach Bill O’Brien said the team can still play better, which will be necessary as the Texans will possibly face the class of the conference in the playoffs.

OFFENSE OVERCOMES TURNOVERS

Deshaun Watson rarely throws interceptions, but he threw two interesting ones against the Titans. The first one, the play broke down and Watson made a poor decision. He threw late into coverage and Kenny Vaccaro came up with the interception. The second interception came with the Texans up 14-7 in the third quarter. The Texans were at the goal line and ran a pop pass to Will Fuller. The Titans read the play perfectly, got a hand in the air and got a tip pick.

Not to be denied, Watson led two more drives, one finished by a Carlos Hyde touchdown and another finished by a Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal to win the game.

If the Texans are to advance far into the playoffs, it’ll be behind Deshaun Watson’s arm and legs.

DEFENSE MAKES A GAME-CHANGING PLAY

“I was trying to turn it into points, but my hamstrings tapped out on me.” Poor Whitney Mercilus. The Texans outside linebacker made a great play with an interception and returned it 86 yards to the 12. Of course, Mercilus was one tackle away from making that a pick-six. The Texans linebacker jokingly blamed linebacker Zach Cunningham for not adding one more block.

His teammates, unsurprisingly roasted him postgame.

“I saw him run out of breath at the 50,” said Johnathan Joseph.

Jokes aside, an incredible hit from Justin Reid popped the ball out and Mercilus’ return set up an easy first touchdown for the Texans after both teams had struggled to score. While the offense will get the most attention, one great defensive play turned the game.

SPECIAL TEAMS COMES UP BIG

The Texans’ special teams rarely come up in these stories because they’re solid and average. The kicking and punting are OK, and so are the return teams. The Texans rarely make mistakes, but extreme standout plays are also few and far between.

Against the Titans, they made two such plays.

The first was a blocked kick by Angelo Blackson, that worked out when the team shifted toward the middle and rushed up the gut. The second came from Lonnie Johnson. The Titans ran a fake punt pass from Texans territory and punter Brett Kern’s deep ball got swatted by Johnson, stopping what could have been a huge fourth-down conversion.

DON’T SLEEP ON THE BUCS

Next week the Tamba Bay Buccaneers (7-7) host the Texans. They’re on a four-game win-streak but could be down both of their top receivers. Mike Evans pulled a hamstring last week and Chris Godwin suffered a similar injury this week.

Jameis Winston comes into the Week 16 tilt with the possibility of leading the NFL in both touchdown passes and interceptions, somehow.