The good, bad and ugly from the Texans 20-13 win over Buffalo

Jonathan Joseph had the game-winning pick 6. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Texans like things the hard way. I’m talking about making three lefts instead of making one right hard. I’m talking trying to assemble anything from Ikea without instructions in the dark after taking six shots hard. The 20-13 win over the Bills was about as dirty as a win could feel. Here’s how I saw things:

The Good

-JJ Watt got his seventh sack of the season today. He’s rounding into form. However, my concern is that these sacks are coming against subpar offensive lineman.

-Alfred Blue has been the team’s most consistent runner outside Deshaun Watson. He averaged 4.5 yards a carry today on only six carries. His decisiveness, vision, power, and pass blocking makes me wonder why he hasn’t gotten more playing time.

-Jonathan Joseph picked off Nathan Peterman and took it to the house to put the Texans up 20-13 with 1:23 left in the game. The old man showed it’s all about the preparation. He read the comeback route and knew Peterman was going to it. That was a pick six from the moment I saw him break on the ball.

The Bad

-Negative plays in scoring range continue to plague this team. Early in the second quarter saw DeAndre Hopkins (yes, you read that right) throw incomplete on first down, Lamar Miller lose five yards on a second down run, then Hopkins gain 12 on 3rd & 15 and settling for a field goal. Bill O’Brien’s play calling may not be the best, but neither is the team’s execution.

-Speaking of O’Brien, he chose not to use any of the three timeouts after the Bills got a turnover with 39 seconds before the half. What made the decision even more baffling was LeSean McCoy losing five yards on first down. That could’ve gotten the Texans an extra possession before the half. Maybe that’s not his job and I’m assuming it is.

-Shareece Wright got beat badly on a 16-yard touchdown by Zay Jones to put the Bills up 13-10 early in the fourth quarter. It was a double move that Wright bit on and made Jones/Peterman look like an All Pro receiver/quarterback combo. It’s the kind of play that highlights the depth woes at corner.   

The Ugly

-Jadeveon Clowney tackled Chris Ivory by one of his dreadlocks and it came out! I was nervous about it being called a horse collar penalty. The sheer pain of being pulled down by your hair and having it come out makes my skin crawl. And this is coming from a bald guy.

-Watson looked really timid in the pocket today. Sure his protection is not the best, but he was indecisive and got himself hit several times. He was also sacked seven times for 35 lost yards. Some of those sacks were the line’s fault, but a handful was his fault. He should have run with the ball a few times, but decided to look for the big play down the field instead.

-One of Watson’s picks came when they were in scoring range, up 10-0 right before halftime. He scrambled outside the pocket after breaking away from a sack and launched a ball into the end zone where the safety was waiting on it like a fair catch punt. Had he simply thrown the ball away or run then slid, the score could’ve been 13-0 heading into the half and the momentum would have shifted more in their favor. Instead, it gave the Bills hope.

Watson continues to get hit. The run game hasn’t looked the same for the third game in a row. Cornerback depth, as well as offensive line play, will be an Achilles heel for this team until next season. Despite all of this, the team is on a three game win streak and find themselves possibly back in the playoff hunt. With the Jags banged up and the Titans not proving to be anything special, the division isn’t out of reach. But the way this team has played, I wouldn’t get my hopes up just yet.


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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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