Texans 20, Colts 17

In a must-win game, Texans grind out a big victory over the Colts

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The Texans were in a must-win situation against the Colts Thursday night and came through with a huge win. They won it 20-17. Here is how it all played out:

Offense

Positives: They were able to get some big plays in the passing game to both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. The latter is rarely healthy enough to play, but on the few occasions he is on the field, he helps stretch the defense. It aided in Deshaun Watson throwing for 298 yards and 2 TDs on 19 of 30 passing. Fuller had a big third down catch late in the game to ice it.

Negatives: Watson had a first half pick that led to points. He also made a terrible pass on fourth and three in the third quarter that gave them no chance at converting. The running game was an absolute joke until Carlos Hyde broke free for 33 yards in the fourth quarter.

Defense

Positives: Early on, they kept the Colts at bay, not allowing any points until late in the second quarter. They came up with three straight stops in the second half that allowed them to win the game. They held Jacoby Brissett to just 129 yards passing. They had a massive stop on fourth and seven late in the fourth quarter that essentially won them the game.

Negatives: For a stretch, the Colts were able to run the ball almost at will, hit tight ends and running backs out of the backfield in the passing game and basically dominate for a time where they scored three straight times when the Texans missed tackles and looked sloppy. Fortunately they did just enough when it mattered. Still they forced zero turnovers, had just one sack and allowed the Colts 175 rushing yards and a 4.5 yards per carry average. The Colts dominated time of possession by almost seven minutes, converted 9 of 15 on third down and ran 65 plays to the Texans 55. Still, they got out with a win.

The bottom line

The Texans had to have this to have a realistic shot at winning the division. It was a tough, grind it out win, which the Texans have done a lot this year. As bad as they were on Sunday against the Ravens, this was a strong bounce back. Watson was clutch, the defense was OK enough and the Texans were able to escape with a victory. At 7-4, they lead the AFC South and with the Patriots up next they needed this one in the worst way.

Fortunately, they got it.

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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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