January 02, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Houston Texans are heading into the wild-card round not sure which quarterback is starting and with one of the worst offenses for any playoff team in nearly 40 years.

Brock Osweiler came off the bench after Tom Savage was diagnosed with a concussion, and he threw a touchdown and ran for another score Sunday as the Texans lost 24-17 to the Tennessee Titans . Even with Osweiler's TDs, the Texans finished with only 25 touchdowns this season.

That is the fewest TDs scored by a team heading into the playoffs in a 16-game season since 1978 when Atlanta had just 27, according to Pro Football Reference.

''I think our offense, passing game, at times, has looked pretty good,'' Houston coach Bill O'Brien said. ''Not good enough obviously.''

The Texans (9-7) came into the regular-season finale averaging just 17.5 points per game - 29th in the NFL. They managed just 34 yards in the first half of a 12-10 win over Cincinnati in clinching the AFC South on Dec. 24. Osweiler had struggled so that O'Brien yanked him during a 21-20 win over Jacksonville on Dec. 18, giving the starting job to Savage.

Before the Texans host Oakland (12-4), O'Brien plans to evaluate his quarterbacks. Sunday was the first time Houston had lost to Tennessee (9-7) since the 2013 season finale.

Some things to know about the Texans and Titans:


Savage started his second straight game but was sacked on the opening series and stripped of the ball. Savage went to the sideline after sneaking for a first down on the first play of the second quarter with the Texans announcing he was being evaluated for a concussion before being cleared. He came out to kneel down on the final play of the first half with O'Brien telling team radio that he planned to keep Savage in the game.

But Savage was re-evaluated at halftime and diagnosed with a concussion. Osweiler finished the game throwing for 253 yards while sacked three times. Savage was 5 of 8 for 25 yards before his concussion. Asked if Savage will start if cleared, O'Brien said there will be an evaluation after Osweiler, who signed a $72 million deal to leave Denver, did a good job.

''I would absolutely love to start this playoff game,'' Osweiler said.


Houston deactivated six starters against Tennessee, and O'Brien said quarterback Brandon Weeden was the only healthy player in that bunch. O'Brien said running back Lamar Miller, who has missed the last two games, should be available for the playoffs. The others scratched included defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, linebackers John Simon and Brian Cushing and cornerback Johnathan Joseph. ''We'll have to figure out who's ready to play,'' O'Brien said.


The Titans matched the biggest single-season turnaround in franchise history with a six-win improvement from 3-13 in 2015. The then-Houston Oilers also improved by six wins in 1967 and 1974, and Titans coach Mike Mularkey tied Sid Gillman for the biggest win improvement in his first full season. But they went 2-4 in the division, a tiebreaker that cost them the division title and kept them out of the postseason for a seventh straight season.

''It's just a bad feeling to stomach after this game knowing we were probably the better team in this division,'' Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. ''But we didn't get the job done.''


The Texans are itching for a chance to host another wild-card game after being routed 30-0 by Kansas City in this game a year ago. ''This has been in our mind since last year when it happened,'' Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye said. Cushing said he still thinks about that loss. ''The only way to erase that is to go out there and get a win and play way better than we did that last time.''


Titans running back DeMarco Murray wound up leading the AFC and finished third in the NFL with 1,287 yards rushing, and he said after his worst performance this season that he had been playing with a torn plantar plate in his right foot . Murray said his foot hurt enough he needed medication just to practice. Murray didn't miss a game and turned in the second-best season of his career and seventh-best in franchise history.


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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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