Another loss

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans' 45-7 loss to the Jaguars

DeAndre Hopkins was once again one of the lone bright spots. Houstontexans.com

Quarterback T.J. Yates’ first start didn’t go as well as he hoped as the Texans fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-7. Another week, another poor performance by the Texans. They went down like Mike Tyson hit them with one of his famous uppercuts.

The Good

-It took DeAndre Hopkins about two and a half quarters to really get going, but he beat Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey on two good plays. The first was a 40-yard go route on a third and 11. The second was a similar go route for a 25-yard touchdown.

-Benardrick McKinney showed that no-quit attitude on a hustle play. Jags receiver Keelan Cole broke away from the defense on a 73-yard catch and run. McKinney hustled down field to prevent it from being a 74-yard touchdown. The fact that McKinney chased him down shows that it means more to him to make that play as opposed to feeling sorry for himself and his team. No “business decision” made here.

-Will Fuller had five catches on five targets for 44 yards. I find this fascinating since he was labeled (and rightfully so) a guy that drops too many passes, as well as being only a deep threat. He ran good routes and made every catch. His best route/catch combo came on a third down conversion on a nice out route in which his crisp cut created not only separation, but a throwing lane for Yates as well.

The Bad

-While the team only gave up four sacks, all three sacks came on third downs and ended possessions. Those three possessions that ended in sacks also came in the dreadful first half in which the Jags jumped out to a 31-0 lead.  

-One of the plays you learn not to make is a costly mistake before halftime. Especially when it gives the team with a sizable lead another shot at putting points on the board. That’s exactly what Yates did by throwing an interception 42 seconds left before halftime. He floated a ball out to Hopkins that Jags safety Barry Church picked off at the Texans’ 45 yard line.

- Offensive lineman Jeff Allen was penalized three more times today. His play has been downright awful. Contrary to what may be popular opinion, he’s not even the team leader in penalties. He has eight, while Jadeveon Clowney leads the team with 11.

The Ugly

-Speaking of penalties, the Texans as a team were penalized 13 times for a total of 122 yards. It’s bad enough when your offense can’t move the ball, but when you give up over 100 yards in penalties, that’ll make any difficulties even more insurmountable.

- Jags fullback Tommy Bohanon scored two touchdowns on a couple 1-yard fullback dive plays. Whenever the opposing team’s fullback scores twice, that’s a clear sign your defense has allowed their offense to deeply penetrate your turf.  

-The pass defense was absolutely shredded by Blake freaking Bortles (21 of 29, 326 yards and three touchdowns) and a couple of undrafted wide receivers! Craig Shelton and I were thinking the same thing earlier, but he actually tweeted it out. Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens combined for 11 catches, 247 yards, and all three of Bortles’ touchdowns. Mickens actually slept in his car as a member of the practice squad because he couldn’t afford a place to stay!

Texans defense couldn’t cover the head of a nail with a blanket today. They were playing some man coverage and consistently got beat on crossing routes because their cover guys lack speed and man cover skills. When they resorted to playing more zone looks, they were still getting beat because they can’t generate enough of a pass rush…and their defensive backs can’t cover! Kevin Johnson got penalized and abused yet again today, while the All-Pro who was more than likely not on their draft board that year had two interceptions and a forced fumble last night for the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s nothing great about losing to look forward to since they don’t own their 1st or 2nd rounders in the upcoming draft, so the rebuild will take longer than most will think. Here’s to hoping Rick Smith finds a magic personnel genie to help him make moves this offseason, or I could see another subpar year coming next year.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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