Deshaun Watson and Texans plunge dagger in Titans' division hopes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans won four in a row and six out of seven games to put themselves squarely in the AFC South race, but couldn't finish the comeback on Sunday.

The Titans came up short in a 24-21 loss at home to the Houston Texans with the AFC South lead on the line. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson came up big when it mattered the most, steering Houston's offense on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a field goal. The drive took longer than five minutes and featured Watson magically escaping multiple potential sacks on third downs and hooking up with DeAndre Hopkins for a critical 35-yard completion.

The tough loss squandered another outstanding performance by Titans rookie wideout A.J. Brown. Brown finished with more than 100 receiving yards for the fourth time this season. He joins Ernest Givens as the only Titans/Houston Oilers rookie (1986) with at least four 100-yard receiving games since the 1970 merger. Brown also joined Givens as the first Titans/Oilers rookie receiver with at least 100 yards in consecutive games since the 1970 merger. Brown's four 100-yard receiving games are the most by a rookie in a season since Amari Cooper in 2015 (5) according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Describe the game in two words: Heart breaker. The Titans had a chance to take a one-game lead with two games to play but couldn't overcome an early turnover at the goal line on a tipped pass.

Pivotal play: Ryan Tannehill found Anthony Firkser just short of the end zone, but Texans safety Justin Reid knocked the ball loose and linebacker Whitney Mercilus gathered the deflected ball for an interception. Mercilus returned it 86 yards before being taken down by Jonnu Smith. Watson found Kenny Stills on the next play for the first of their two touchdown connections.

QB breakdown: Tannehill made some excellent throws. His rainbow throw off play-action to Brown in the first series was as precise as they come. Tannehill showed great patience in the pocket on his touchdown throw to Brown. Tannehill also rushed for his fourth touchdown on the season, which is a career high, equaling his total rushing touchdowns from 2013 to 2018. Brown has become Tannehill's favorite receiver, as shown by the 13 targets that went his way Sunday.

Bold prediction for next week: The Titans can still work their way back into the playoff picture with a victory over the New Orleans Saints at home next week. Although they only scored 14 points against the Texans, the offense will get back to their high output by scoring more than 30 points against New Orleans.

Eye-popping NextGen Stat: Tannehill took 6.21 seconds to throw on his 5-yard touchdown pass to Brown with 13:46 left in the fourth quarter. That's the second-longest time to throw on a Titans' touchdown since the stat was first tracked in 2017. Marcus Mariota took 8.18 seconds on a touchdown pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in their 2017 wild-card game. Coincidentally, Mariota also made the catch.