GIANTS 27, TEXANS 22

Another bad loss for the Texans in the home opener

J.J. Watt had a big game. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

Once again, the Texans dropped a game they could have won and are now 0-3 on the season. This time it was the New York Giants beating them 27-22 in NRG Stadium. The story of the game was the continuing lack of first half offense and a high number of penalties. Today’s total was 7 penalties for 50 yards. Four of those were false starts by the offensive line. The score at halftime was 20-6 in favor of the Giants and Houston managed only 160 total yards of offense at the break.

Defensively the Texans struggled to get off the field. The Giants scored points on their first four drives of the game putting the Texans in a hole they couldn’t climb out of. Saquon Barkley led the way on the ground with 82 yards and a touchdown on the way to a huge time of possession difference. The Giants held the ball for over 35 minutes while Houston had it for only about 24.

Things turned around in the second half. The defense was able to apply more pressure up front and forced New York into four consecutive punts. J.J. Watt looked more like the player we were hoping he would be, getting three sacks (one was a strip of Eli Manning) and making another huge tackle for loss. He finished the day with eight tackles and was a disruptive force.

The Texans secondary was once again vulnerable. Manning finished the day 25 of 29 for 297 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 132.3 quarterback rating. Offensively they added another 115 yards on the ground for a total output of 380 yards. The Giants played most of the game with a huge lead and it never looked close.

While Deshaun Watson finally got the offense moving in the second half with 249 passing yards and 2 touchdowns; it was a crucial interception he threw in the third quarter that halted a promising drive deep in Giants territory. That was Houston’s second drive to end on a turnover as a Lamar Miller fumble ended the previous one just outside the red zone. It was those lost opportunities to score that kept the Texans from having any chance to come back in this one.

Ka’imi Fairbairn was 3 for 3 with a long of 54 yards today, which gave Houston its early points. And once again Will Fuller proved he and Watson have a great connection as he hauled in another touchdown among his 5 receptions for 101 yards, getting the score within 5 points, 20-15. The Giants came right back and made it 27-15 on a pass to Sterling Shepard. The scoring ended with a short Watson pass to Lamar Miller getting the Texans to 22 points, but the Giants were able to run the clock out and end the game.

 

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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