NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Houston Texans are going into the playoffs with their quarterback situation unsettled once again, this time a combination of injury and improved play by Brock Osweiler.
Tom Savage wound up sidelined by a concussion Sunday, and Osweiler played well enough after coming off the bench in Houston’s 24-17 loss at Tennessee that coach Bill O’Brien said the Texans will be evaluating who starts their AFC wild-card game.
“We will talk about that as a staff,” O’Brien said. “We will talk about that tomorrow and the next day.”
Savage started for the AFC South champions, left in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and was cleared. He took a snap to kneel down on the final play of the first half, and O’Brien told team radio Savage would play in the second half. But Savage was diagnosed with a concussion after being re-evaluated at halftime.
O’Brien said he did not know what happened. The Texans (9-7) will host Oakland (12-4) next weekend.
That left Osweiler, benched during a win over Jacksonville on Dec. 18, running the offense. He threw for 253 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a 1-yard TD on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter.
Osweiler had one final chance to tie with Houston getting the ball with 53 seconds left. But he was sacked and threw incomplete on fourth down as Tennessee held on.
“He did a good job,” O’Brien said. “He competed. Guys got open for him. He threw the ball. Did a nice job for us.”
Osweiler, the quarterback signed away from Denver for $72 million, said he absolutely wants to start in the playoffs.
“You play this game to be a starter,” Osweiler said. “You play this game to contribute positively to your team, so I would absolutely love to start this playoff game. But at the end of the day I don’t make those decisions.”
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said nobody panicked when Savage left the game.
“We hate that Tom went down the way he did,” Hopkins said. The guy’s just getting his chance in this league. But this is the NFL, and it’s next man up.”
DaQuan Jones recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter, and the Titans never trailed to finish with their first winning season since 2011.
The Titans (9-7) also ended a five-game skid to the two-time AFC South champs, who had beaten Tennessee eight of the previous nine games in this series. With their six-win improvement from going 3-13 in 2015, the Titans matched the biggest one-year turnaround in franchise history, previously set in 1967 and 1974.
Matt Cassel also threw for a touchdown in his first start this season in place of an injured Marcus Mariota, and Derrick Henry ran for a TD.
The Texans had little at stake except sweeping the AFC South for the first time in franchise history. They deactivated six starters before kickoff and had just one starter in on defense by midway through the third quarter. Undrafted rookie Joel Heath had two of the Texans’ four sacks.
MISSING IN ACTION
O’Brien said running back Lamar Miller, who missed his second straight game with an injured ankle, should be back for the playoffs. Fullback Jay Prosch also was deactivated. On defense, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, linebackers John Simon and Brian Cushing and cornerback Johnathan Joseph also did not dress. O’Brien said quarterback Brandon Weeden was the only healthy player deactivated.
DeMarco Murray came into the regular-season finale trailing Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell by two yards for the most yards rushing in the AFC. Pittsburgh rested Bell for the playoffs. Murray struggled to find running room against Houston, which has allowed an NFL-stingiest 68 yards rushing per game since Week 8. Murray finished with 21 yards on 11 in his worst performance this season.
Murray finished with 1,287 yards and said after the game he finished the season with a torn plantar plate, a ligament on the bottom of his right foot.
“Winning is hard to do, and obviously a really good feeling,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “But still disappointment as we are not playing. Feel a little bit empty here that we don’t have a chance to keep going after today. This is a lesson … learned.”
Texans: Figuring out who starts at quarterback.
Titans: A busy offseason featuring two first-round draft picks and lots of salary cap space to accelerate rebuilding.
This story has been updated to include Houston’s playoff opponent, the Oakland Raiders.
For more NFL coverage: https://www.pro32.ap.org and https://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.