Texans 26, Jaguars 3

10 observations from Wembley Stadium on Texans-Jaguars in London

Fred Faour

It was not always pretty. But it was dominant. The Texans came to London and knocked off the Jaguars 26-3. It was their best defensive performance of the season, even without J.J. Watt. It was also my first experience in London, along with the Texans. It has been magnificent. You can read more about the actual experience on Wednesday, but here are 10 observations from the Texans win over the Jaguars:

1) Watson playing at a high level

One of the cool things about going to this game was I got to sit next to a friend from London who was attending his first NFL game. He asked what to watch for. I said, "No. 4 for the Texans, and No. 10."

After a few early magical escapes, my friend said "my goodness, he is amazing. What a lovely player." (Insert British accent).

He was amazed, and wants a Watson jersey now. Yes, we have seen bigger stat games from Watson, but this was outstanding. He was sacked once but escaped many others and made one amazing play after another. He threw for just 201 yards, but completed 22 of 28, had two touchdowns and an 86.0 Total QBR. He also rushed for 37 yards on seven carries and did not turn the ball over. He is becoming better and better, and most importantly did not have that bad decision at the wrong time. He is growing up before our eyes.

My friend nailed it. Watson is a "lovely" player.

2) The not so good

Seven penalties, mostly on offense, almost derailed things. The first drive they were moving the ball well and wound up with a first and 35 thanks to two penalties. They had to settle for a field goal. That was about the only negative of the day. Well, one more...

3) Impact day for Hyde...and one blemish

Carlos Hyde had one of those days where if you looked at the box score, you would say "wow." He had 160 yards on 19 carries. Yes, he was solid, but much of that came on a 58-yard run late in the game...where he was stripped of the ball just outside the goal line for a touchback. It was the Texans only turnover and briefly cost them points. The Texans picked off a pass on the next play and would go on to score, taking Hyde off the hook. He was solid before that run, but that burst inflated his numbers. The fumble wound up not hurting, but against the opponents to come, that can't happen.

4) Run stoppers

The Texans are pretty good against the run. Leonard Fournette is pretty good at running the football. The Texans won this one, holding Fournette to 40 yards on 11 carries. QB Gardner Minshew added 34 yards on 4 carries for a total of 74 yards on 15 carries. The 4.9 average looks good, but the reality is the Texans controlled the line against Fournette, and dared Minshew to beat them through the air. He couldn't.

5) And against the pass....

Romeo Crennel had a really good game plan. Force Minshew to beat you through the air. He did put up 309 yards, but on 27 of 47 passing. Crennel was willing to allow some pass plays, gambling that Minshew's lack of accuracy would stall the team.

It worked.

Minshew was sacked three times, and after a very clean three quarters, threw two bad interceptions in the fourth quarter. Crennel had been playing for those mistakes, and they finally happened.

6) That overall defense...

So yes, they gave up yards, 356 to be exact. But they held the Jags to three points (it should have been six; the Jags botched a field goal try). They also forced four turnovers, all in the fourth quarter. They held the Jags to 4-of-13 on third and fourth down combined. The Jags were 0 for 1 in the red zone. Results wise, this was the best defensive performance of the year. They played bend-but-don't-break perfectly.

7) O'Brien does it again...

It's been hard to criticize Bill O'Brien the past few weeks, and we won't do much here. But the clock management at the end of the first half...They wound up trying a 57-yard field goal and failing, but had they managed things better and gone for a TD as opposed to playing for a field goal, they could have come away with points. It wound up not mattering, but still...It will in tighter games.

Having said that, he called a very good game on offense against a terrific defense, and it made all the difference.

8) Secondary getting well

Gareon Conley led the team in tackles and defensed two passes; Briean Boddy-Calhoun had a sack; Jonathan Joseph returned and had four tackles, defensed one pass but also got beat several times again. Still, with a week off, the group could look much different if Bradley Roby, Tashaun Gipson and Lonnie Johnson return. The fill-ins played well. They should be better once the others return.

9) No Tunsil, but...

Left tackle Laremy Tunsil was not able to go, and Chris Clark replaced him and had a penalty but otherwise was functional. Titus Howard returned at right tackle and looked like he had not missed a beat. With a week off, and Tunsil's return, the Texans offensive line should be just fine.

10) A great time at Wembley

The Texans leave with a 6-3 mark, back on top in the AFC South. The Colts lost, the Titans lost, and of course the Jaguars lost. It was a good day all around.

The experience at Wembley Stadium was amazing. It is the most incredible place I have been for sports, and the British have really embraced American football. There were many Jags fans, or at least Pro-Jags attendees, and it was clear none of them came from Jacksonville. The Jags have done a great job of building this market. Still, you saw jerseys from every team; British fans of the sport will go to see almost any game. That is very good for the future of the sport in England.

It's also safe to say the Texans picked up a few fans as well, especially Watson. My friend wasn't the only one to see it. He is a "lovely" player.

And the Texans left Wembley with a bloody good triumph.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

At 8-4 have the Texans stamped themselves as legitimate Super Bowl contenders? No they have not. Not yet. They're making progress, but not yet. Have you seen the Ravens? The Ravens who pulverized the Texans 41-7 in Baltimore 3 weeks ago? Still, beating a 10-1 Patriots team was stout. But the game was in Houston, under an obnoxiously and laughably closed roof. To be a Super Bowl team the Texans are going to have win in January, on the road, probably twice.

The Texans still have faint hopes for a first round playoff bye. They're two games behind New England, but the Patriots do play the Chiefs this Sunday and the Bills in two weeks. However, both those games are in Foxborough where the Pats are undefeated this season. Quick: name the only other NFL team perfect at home this season. Answer below in Buzzer Beaters.

Following games vs. the Ravens, Colts, and Patriots it's understandable that the lowly Broncos coming to town brings very little buzz. It's a take out the trash game for the Texans to get to 9-4. They then could wrap up the AFC South with a win in Nashville next Sunday. On the other hand, the Titans know that if they if win in Oakland Sunday, they take the South by beating the Texans twice over the final three games.

Rockets recover

Excellent bounce back win for the Rockets Thursday night in Toronto. Hitting 40 percent of 55 three point attempts facilitated the victory. That after the Rockets looked ridiculous in thinking the NBA should award them a win over the Spurs because of the James Harden uncredited dunk in Tuesday's lame loss at San Antonio. That only enhanced their reputation as a whiny organization, which is too bad because it's a really good organization. As if a basket they didn't get with more than half the fourth quarter remaining decided the game. The Rockets lost that game because they fell apart, puking up a 22 point lead against a bad Spurs team.

The Rockets lost that game because their defense disintegrated. Not a rarity so far this season. The Rockets lost that game because despite scoring 50 points James Harden was not good. 11 of 38 shooting, kept jacking up long threes on a night when he was making very few (4-20). Harden is a streaky three point shooter. Overall this season he is below NBA average behind the three point line.

The Rockets lost that game because Russell Westbrook was horrible. A triple double rings verrrrry hollow in a game where Westbrook made seven of 30 shots from the floor. As over his NBA career, Westbrook is a phenomenally exciting player to watch. Also as over his NBA career, he is a phenomenally bad outside shooter. No other player in NBA history with as lousy a three point percentage as Westbrook's is within a thousand three point attempts of Westbrook's total. So far this season he's a ridiculously inept 22 percent. The Rockets, so smart with analytics, are so dumb if they continue to encourage, or allow, Westbrook to take on average more than five threes per game. The Westbricking will continue. He's 31 years old, it's basketball insane to hope he'll now develop into a good outside shooter. Or a decent one.

The 14-7 Rockets are again clearly a very good team, but they also look like a B-list contender. At least there's plenty of season left to upgrade from there.

Astros likely to be quiet

The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings open Sunday in San Diego. The Astros' roster is now so top heavy with massive salaries that it will be a big surprise if they make any significant additions. They have no legitimate starting catcher. Resigning Robinson Chirinos seems the most likely play there. They want/need to add a back of the rotation starter and will be shopping the discount bin, but may still blanch at those prices. The Astros are unlikely to offer market value for Will Harris or Joe Smith to return to the bullpen, and instead keep clearly inferior but much cheaper guys like Chris Devenski and Joe Biagini. Trading Jake Marisnick to the Mets to shave a couple of million dollars off the payroll is a sign of the times. Myles Straw will play for about one fifth of what Marisnick will make in 2020. There are no takers for Josh Reddick's 13 million dollar salary for 2020, the Astros literally cannot give him away.

The Astros' overall talent remains outstanding. The lineup is super-stacked, the pitching should still be fine overall unless Justin Verlander or Zack Greinke shows notable slippage. But if the Yankees sign Gerrit Cole they obviously go into the season with the best American League squad on paper

​Buzzer Beaters

1. SKOL! The Vikings are 5-0 at home. 2. The NFL 100 greatest players list Friday night reveals its 13 greatest defensive backs. My all-time starting secondary: Corners Deion Sanders and Dick "Night Train" Lane. Safeties Ronnie Lott and Ed Reed. Nickel back 1980 Lester Hayes. 3. Lone Star State FBS Un-Coach of the Year medalists: Bronze-Jimbo Fisher Silver-Tom Herman Gold-Dana Holgorsen








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