Texans improve to 1-4
Deep dive: Here's how the Texans picked up their first victory of the season vs. Jags
For the first time this season, the results of the game brought joy to the Houston Texans' locker-room. In his first victory as interim head coach, the team presented Romeo Crennel with the game ball following the Texans' 30-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday afternoon, inside the NRG Stadium in Houston.
As a result of capturing their first win, Crennel celebrated with several old school dance moves, according to cornerback Bradley Roby. Before moving on to a potential Week 6 game against the Tennessee Titans, here is a deep dive into the Texans' first victory of the season this past Sunday.
"Man, he did like five dances," Roby said. "He did the Soulja Boy, he did the Macarena, he started doing the disco. I didn't know what he was doing. It was funny though. NFL games are hard to win, so just playing in the league so long, you've got to enjoy each one."
Brandin Cooks and Deshaun Watson brought Houston's offense life
During the first game of the post-Bill O'Brien era — for once — the Texans' offense did not look conservative nor predictable. The results ended in Houston recording a season-best 486 total yards with 357 coming in the passing game. Deshaun Watson had a connection with each of his receivers, but none more so than Brandin Cooks.
After he failed to record a catch during last week's loss against the Vikings, Cooks had his best game as a member of the Texans. He notched a season-best 161 yards on eight receptions, showing promise as the incumbent to DeAndre Hopkins as Watson's top receiver.
The growing chemistry between the quarterback-to-receiver duo was on display during Cooks' only touchdown of the game. While standing on 4th-and-4 late in the fourth quarter, Watson threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Cooks to seal the win for Houston.
The play on fourth-down exemplified the risk Crennel and offensive coordinator Tim Kelly are willing to take — something O'Brien has shied away from several times throughout his tenure in Houston.
In addition to Cooks, Will Fuller made four catches for 58 yards, while Darren Fells had two receptions for 57 yards. Both players scored once on a touchdown pass from Watson.
"That was a great move on his part to get the touchdown, all I was trying to do was get the first down because it was a two-score game," Crennel said. "Even though it would have put points on the board, potentially it might not have made a difference if they had gone down and scored. And so I wanted to try to get that done and kind of put it out of reach and make it much tougher for them to have a chance to come back."
.@BrandinCooks is BALLIN' today! 📺: CBS 📱: https://t.co/Nm64mQkAPf https://t.co/kXQC10O0HT— Houston Texans (@Houston Texans) 1602445577.0
The Texans finally recorded a turnover, but more importantly stopped the run
Fair or unfair, the most decrepit part of the Texans' defense was their inability to stop the run. Coming into Sunday's game, Houston had allowed a league-worst 181.1 rushing yards on the ground. Over the past three games, the Texans gave up an average of 87.3 rushing yards in the fourth quarter alone.
While James Robinson does not provide the same threat as Mark Ingram, James Conner or Dalvin Cook, the rookie running back was no daunting task to defend. Robinson received Offensive Rookie of the Month honors for September — after recording 285 yards (4.8 AVG) on 60 carries, to go along with three touchdowns through his first four games.
As they held the Jaguars to 75 total yards on the ground, the Texans only gave up 48 yards on 13 carries to Robinson. The amount of pressure coming from Houston's front seven on each rushing attempt led to a costly fumble by Robinson — which was recovered by J.J. Watt.
The pressure the Texans displayed against the Jaguars not only stopped the run, but made it a tumultuous day for Jacksonville quarterback, Gardner Minshew. Houston tallied five quarterback hits, three sacks and forced Minshew into his second fumble of the season.
"All week long we harped on the fundamentals, we harped on everybody doing their job, getting back to the basics, and I thought we did that well," Watt said. "Obviously, that in conjunction with stopping them early in the game, offense putting up points and then putting them in situations where they had to throw the ball late in the game makes a massive difference. We're very pleased with the way we played on defense today. We have to continue to do that and improve and get ourselves even better."
Finally, some luck fell into the Texans' favor
The Texans had a great game on both sides of the ball, but it was far from perfect. Houston had a few causes for concern despite the win, but more so with their secondary. The Texans' defensive backs gave up several big plays down the field, which included a 51-yard completion from Minshew to Chris Conley that resulted in a touchdown four plays later.
The substantial drives where Jacksonville recorded 15 or more yards through the air is what kept the Jaguars in the game until late in the fourth quarter. Had Jacksonville converted on two missed field goals and a Robinson fumble, this game could have easily gone in the Jaguars favor.
Thankfully, for the first time this season, Lady Luck saw fit to shine her light among the franchise of the Houston Texans.
"I think that our guys played extremely hard, and we weren't able to take advantage of a certain sequence of the two turnovers," Jacksonville's head coach Doug Marrone said after the loss. " We weren't able to get the momentum back on our side or turn them into points or touchdowns. So there were opportunities out there that we didn't take advantage of and that's why we came out with the loss."
Up next, the Texans will look to make it two wins in a row Sunday against the 3-0 Tennessee Titans. The Titans are expected to play their Week 4 match against the Bills on Tuesday due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
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