Texans-Broncos observations

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans win over the Broncos

Demaryius Thomas had an impact in his debut. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

With their five game win streak on the line, the Texans beat the Broncos 19-17. They were helped greatly at the end of the game yet again. Here’s how I saw it:

The Good

-Newly acquired receiver Demaryius Thomas got going early against his former team. On the first drive, he had two catches for 49 yards. The drive ended with a Jordan Thomas seven yard touchdown, the team’s first opening drive touchdown all season.

-Deshaun Watson looked really good today playing in the thin Denver air while still fighting through his lung/rib injury. He was 17 of 24 for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He chipped in 38 yards rushing as well.   

-Rookie safety Justin Reid came up with a fumble recovery in the second quarter that led to the team’s second touchdown. It’s his second straight game with a turnover. The rookie is paying dividends and making teams wonder how’d he slip to the third round.

The Bad

-Missed tackles continue to plague this defense. Tyrann Mathieu, Shareece Wright, and Natrell Jamerson all missed tackles that led to first downs. Kareem Jackson is the only sure tackler in the secondary. That’s a scary thought considering his slight frame and tendency to throw his body at guys when tackling.

- Injuries to the linebacking corps have depleted an already bad group in coverage as 58 of the 87 yards on the Broncos’ first touchdown drive came on two plays to their tight ends being covered or a blown coverage by Texan linebackers.

-Ka’imi Fairbairn missed his first extra point all season. This was another play/scoring chance that almost cost them the game. Let’s hope it’s not a sign of things to come. We’ve seen kickers miss easy kicks and get the yips.

The Ugly

-The failed fourth and one attempt in the second quarter while in field goal range took almost guaranteed points off the board. Scoring and play calling in the “red area” has been an issue all season.

-The 18 yard completion on fourth and eight at the end of the game nearly cost them. It put the Broncos in field goal range and could have spelled the end of the win streak.

-Mathieu got called for illegal use of the helmet right before halftime. The receiver started lowering his head as Mathieu went for the tackle. If they wanted to call contact to a defenseless receiver I wouldn’t have disagreed. The sheer absurdity and frequency of these calls is taking away from the game. Defenders are scared to make plays for fear of penalty. After the Hugo Cruz firing, refs are making preemptive calls. Something has to be done NOW!

Despite missing more scoring opportunities and continually shooting themselves in the foot, the Texans held on to their win streak by the thinnest of margins again. This team is well on their way to winning a bad division and making the playoffs. But they have got to fix the brain farts in key situations or else their playoff run will be short-lived. For now, fans should celebrate one of the longest win streaks after an 0-3 start in NFL history.

 

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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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