Texans win! Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.
Nico Collins had the best game of his career, and the Texans’ defense came up huge to help Houston hand Denver its first loss since mid-October.
Collins had a career-high 191 yards receiving and a fourth-quarter touchdown, and Jimmie Ward intercepted Denver’s Russell Wilson in the end zone with 9 seconds left to left to help the Houston Texans hold on for a 22-17 win over the Broncos on Sunday.
Ward leapt in front of intended receiver Lucas Krull to secure the fourth victory in five games for Houston (7-5) and snap a five-game winning streak for Denver (6-6).
Wilson was intercepted a season-high three times, all of them after halftime. Derek Stingley Jr. had the first two picks for the Texans. The Broncos had forced 15 turnovers in their winning streak but did not have a takeaway Sunday.
Houston rookie C.J. Stroud threw for 274 yards to end a streak of four straight games with at least 300 yards passing. Star rookie receiver Tank Dell injured his ankle in the first half and was carted off the field.
Texans rookie defensive end Will Anderson Jr., the third overall pick in the draft, had the best game of his young career. The former Alabama star had two sacks, four quarterback hits, deflected one of the balls that Stingley intercepted and deflected a punt.
Wilson threw for 186 yards with a touchdown in Denver’s first loss since Oct. 12.
Early in the fourth quarter, Wilson’s 41-yard pass to Jerry Jeudy got Denver to the 1, and the QB ran for the touchdown on the next play to cut Houston’s lead to 22-17.
The Broncos got a stop and were driving on the ensuing possession when Stingley hopped in front of a pass intended for Courtland Sutton to give Houston the ball back.
Stroud was shaken up on a run on the next drive and left the game for two plays while he was examined in the medical tent on the sideline. He returned and was sacked before the Texans punted.
Sutton grabbed a 45-yard touchdown pass from Wilson that cut the lead to 16-10 with about five minutes remaining in the third. It was the 329th career TD pass for Wilson, who moved past Dan Marino for second-most in a player’s first 12 seasons.
Stroud was sacked and fumbled on third down on Houston’s next possession, but the Texans got the ball back. They punted, but Stingley intercepted Wilson on Denver’s first play on a ball that was deflected by Anderson.
The Texans cashed in on the miscue when Collins scored on a 3-yard reception on the second play of the fourth quarter. The 2-point conversion failed to leave Houston up 22-10.
The Texans forced a three-and-out on the first possession of the second half when Anderson sacked Wilson on first down and Jonathan Greenard took him down on third down. Houston pushed the lead to 16-3 on Matt Ammendola’s 38-yard field goal.
The Texans led by three in the first quarter when they went for it on fourth-and-2. Houston was called for a false start on the play, but Alex Singleton hit Stroud late to draw an unnecessary roughness penalty and give the Texans a first down at the Broncos 3.
Two plays later, Pierce bulled in for the touchdown to make it 10-0. Dell was injured when he got rolled up at the end of Pierce’s run.
Broncos G Quinn Meinerz left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder.
Texans receiver Tank Dell suffered a fractured fibula, per NFL media.
Broncos: Visit the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.
Texans: Visit the New York Jets next Sunday.injury.
Mar 4, 2024, 5:02 pm
We are exactly one week away from when the legal tampering period begins in the NFL, when agents and teams are allowed to begin negotiations. Deals cannot become official until the new league year begins next Wednesday, but we often hear about contracts being agreed upon within the first few hours of legal tampering.
The Houston Texans have been connected to Giants running back Saquon Barkley and Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans. Over the weekend, KPRC's Aaron Wilson reported that the Texans were not likely to pursue Evans.
Now, we'll never know for sure if the Texans were looking to make a run at Evans, as he has agreed to a 2-year, $52 million contract with Tampa Bay on Monday.
More about the Buccaneers and five-time Pro-Bowl receiver Mike Evans reaching agreement on a two-year, $52 million contract that includes $35 million guaranteed, per his agent @DerykGilmore of @Day1SportsEnt.https://t.co/fwzIwzI3IL
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 4, 2024
Will this keep the Texans from signing a receiver?
Not necessarily, but the top options that could have been available are becoming less likely to reach free agency. The Bengals are using the franchise tag on Tee Higgins. Colts GM Chris Ballard has made it clear Michael Pittman isn't going anywhere.
The top receivers available in free agency now could come down to Jaguars' Calvin Ridley, Cardinals' Marquise Brown, and Bills' Gabe Davis to a lesser extent.
However, the Jags could bring back Ridley, and Brown isn't a lock to leave in free agency either. It's looking more and more like the Texans will be better off upgrading the position in the NFL Draft. Especially after some eye-opening performances at the NFL Combine this weekend.
It's also important to keep in mind that Tank Dell, Nico Collins, John Metchie, and Robert Woods are currently under contract for 2024. They could also look to bring back Noah Brown.
As for Barkley, we fully expect the Texans to add some depth at running back. But Barkley won't come cheap, and this could be another position the team will address in the draft.
Saquon Barkley's projected contract, per @PFF_Brad
Would you sign him on this deal? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/VcYA1xLMln
— PFF HOU Texans (@PFF_Texans) February 27, 2024
And don't be surprised if they elect to bring back Devin Singletary after DeMeco's Ryans' ringing endorsement of him last week.