Whitney Mercilus collects tipped pass and takes off for Texans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans were threatening to score the first points of Sunday’s game early in the second quarter when the Houston Texans got an opportune bounce.

On first and goal, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw a pass intended for Anthony Firkser. The ball was knocked out by Texans safety Justin Reid on the goal line, and deflected into the arms of Whitney Mercilus. The outside linebacker ran up the sideline before he was forced out of bounds by Titans tight end Jonnu Smith for an 86-yard interception return.

Two plays later, Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Kenny Stills to give the Texans a 7-0 lead after the extra point.

Mercilus now has two interceptions this season. He did not have an interception in his first seven NFL seasons. According to ESPN Stats & Information powered by NFL Next Gen Stats, Mercilus hit a max speed of 17.96 mph on the return. Smith made the tackle and during the runback, he reached a max speed of 20.93 MPH — the second-fastest speed by a tight end on any play this season.

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