11 observations from Houston Texans 20-20 tie with Colts

Texans QB Davis Mills had an uneven performance. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Houston Texans let one slip away, but it wasn’t all the way as they settle for a tie with the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener. Here are 11 observations about the season opener.

1. The Texans really let this one get away. After scoring to go up 20-3 the team wouldn’t score again and would amass very little offense. A back-breaking turnover severely injured their chances of winning as well. Yes, it ended in a tie, but any semblance of life from the offense might have avoided that scenario altogether.

2. Lovie Smith said after the game the Texans decided on a tie. Smith said a tie was better than a loss and he didn’t like the way his defense had been playing. I didn’t either, but the setup to get to the questionable fourth-down decision was a tough one.

3. Rex Burkhead probably shouldn’t be featured this much. Yes, I understand he can pass block but there isn’t much left in the rushing tank. This was his second-highest touches in a game while with the Texans at 19. Burkhead touching the ball 19 times isn’t a recipe for success. Lovie Smith’s explanation of why Burkhead was used so much left a lot to be desired. He didn’t specifically address why the veteran running back, who he deemed the passing down back, was in the game on third down with one yard to gain in overtime.

4. Davis Mills missed a few too many passes. Mills sailed a few and notably made a poor throw on third down to Chris Conley early. He got a little shaky in the pocket in the fourth quarter and overtime led to some iffy output. As Mills looks at the film there is plenty he might want back.

5. The offensive line was below average overall. There was a bone-crushing sack that resulted in a turnover. Tytus Howard was put in a blender late and beat to give up a sack. Justin Britt regularly failed to make his assignment. Justin McCray and Kenyon Green rotated at left guard. It must be better up front.

6. Jerry Hughes looks like he has plenty left in the tank. The 13-year veteran had an interception, two sacks, and a pass deflection. He was a camp surprise, and keeping the veteran fresh for the whole year is a key to this defense.

7. The linebackers got eaten alive later in the game. Matt Ryan and the Colts offense hit them with plenty of zone-breaking passes and Jonathan Taylor got rolling late. Taylor averaged 5.5 yards per carry in the second half. Lovie Smith said his defense was gassed at the end, and it showed. That is also what contributed to the team’s decision to play for the punt.

8. Derek Stingley had a bit of a rough first quarter, but he showed up late in the game. The third overall pick got sticky on Colts wideout Alec Pierce and batted down a play that would have been a score. Stingley has plenty to grow on, but the team used him a lot in off and zone coverages. I would be interested in seeing more man coverage.

9. Rookie safety Jalen Pitre had an expected day. The second-round pick was all over the place and in early on with some big tackles for the defense. A late interception looked to go through his hands, and that will keep him up at night. Overall Pitre was solid as a rookie starter.

10. Lovie Smith passed up a 56-yard field goal for Ka'imi Fairbairn in favor of a punt. This was curious as Fairbairn made a 61-yard field goal at home last year. Smith said the expected field goal wasn’t totally in his kicker’s range.

11. This isn’t a loss but it sure feels like one. The Colts played a horrible football game but still clawed their way back into a tie. The Texans collapsed down the stretch allowing for a disappointing non-loss result.

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