GAME OBSERVATIONS

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans OT win over the Cowboys

Ka'imi Fairbairn (left) gets some love from J.J. Watt after Sunday night's game. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans got a hard-fought 19-16 overtime victory over the team that resides up 45 North. Both teams are now 2-3, but only one of them looks as if it is ready for a playoff run. Let’s take a look as how I saw it play out:

The Good

-Deshaun Watson had a good game. He went 31 for 42 with 314 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 10 times for 40 yards. Watson seems to be in a much better rhythm.

-DeAndre Hopkins made the play of the game with a 49-yard catch in overtime. He made three Cowboy defenders miss tackles en route to putting the Texans in position for Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 36-yard game-winning field goal. His patented one-handed handling of the ball even on that play is frustrating, but more on that later.

-Bill O’Brien’s decision to go for the touchdown on fourth down a few seconds before halftime was the right move. Sure it took points off the board if you assume the field goal would have been made, but up 10-6 and getting the ball back after the half at home on Sunday Night Football against an intra-state rival, I would have gone for it as well. But…

The Bad

-…the play called on the fourth down was ridiculous. Mere feet away at the goal line is time for big boy football. Line up and run the ball down their throats or mash them in the face.

-Hopkins had a fumble on the Texans’ first possession of the second half which exacerbated not getting points before halftime. His loosey goosey carrying of the football caught up with him as it was easily punched out. Mishandling of the ball by showing off your hand size/strength is stupid.

-Overtime two weeks in a row, partly due to poor effort and coaching decisions isn’t an ideal way to get to 2-3. Hell, 2-3 isn’t impressive either. Especially when you factor in the offensive play calling that didn’t change until last week’s win against the Colts.

The Ugly

-Offensive line play continues to be an issue. Watson got hit way too much for my liking. Sure, some of his hits are avoidable, but the hit that caused him to throw the pick at the end of the fourth quarter was due to not being able to handle the blitz on the right side by Jaylon Smith.

-Speaking of that pick, it was another bad decision Watson made under duress. He also missed the underneath option on a failed potential red zone touchdown throw again. As much of a reputation as he’s gotten for being so calm, he’s often made poor decisions when pressured. That play could’ve ended the game if it was returned any better.

-The run game continues to struggle. A paltry 88 yards on 31 carries with almost half of that coming from your quarterback is pitiful. This team led the league in rushing after the first three games and has fallen flat in its last two.

A win is a win in the NFL. But some wins feel like loss, just like last week, this feel like a loss. The Texans played good enough to win, but you can’t expect a team to keep this up. Barely scraping by is no way to portray a commitment to winning. This organization can’t keep settling for mediocrity. The fan base will only hold for so long. Eventually, they’ll turn on the team and ownership will only have themselves to blame. Here’s to hope, which seems to be enough for Texans’ fans right now.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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