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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After the Mariners came alive late in Monday's series opener to hand the Houston the loss and keep their playoff picture hanging in the balance, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Tuesday to try and decrease their magic number. Here's how the middle game went:

Final Score: Astros 6, Mariners 1.

Record: 28-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (5-3, 3.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Casey Sadler (1-2, 5.40 ERA).

Both teams trade first-inning runs

The Astros struck first in Tuesday's game, not waiting around until the ninth inning to get on the board. Instead, they jumped out to an immediate 1-0 lead after a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker in the top of the first. The Mariners responded quickly, though, getting a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning before a two-out RBI-double of their own to tie it 1-1.

Astros score five in the sixth

The 1-1 score held all the way until the top of the sixth when the Astros would flip the script from the night prior, taking advantage of some mistakes by Seattle to put up a big inning. First, Michael Brantley started the inning with a solo go-ahead homer to make it 2-1. Then, Kyle Tucker would get his third hit of the night with one out before eventually scoring after a walk and two wild pitches, making it 3-2. With two walks to keep the inning alive and put some insurance runs on base, Martin Maldonado took advantage with a big three-run home run to extend the lead to 6-1.

Valdez finishes seven strong, Astros even series

After allowing the one run in the bottom of the first, Framber Valdez recovered and put together a solid outing on the mound. He allowed just five hits total, two of which came in the first, then back-to-back singles in the fourth and a single in the fifth, while otherwise keeping the Mariners at bay. He would end up completing seven innings of one-run baseball while striking out eight. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 108 P.

After Valdez, Enoli Paredes would take over in the bottom of the eighth, working around a leadoff single to get a scoreless inning to keep it 6-1. In the non-save situation, Josh James would come in for the bottom of the ninth and finish off the win for Houston.

Up Next: The finale and rubber game of this three-game set will start a bit earlier on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:40 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Nick Margevicius (1-3, 5.35 ERA) for the Mariners going against Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.90 ERA) for the Astros.

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