Texans get big win in Los Angeles, knocking off the Chargers 27-20
The Texans played another down to the wire thriller in Los Angeles, holding on for dear life to beat the Chargers 27-20. Let's take a look at how it played out:'
Positives: The revamped offensive line gave Deshaun Watson more than enough time to make plays. Titus Howard moved to right tackle, and Max Scharping got the start at left guard. This will likely be the lineup moving forward, with Laremy Tunsil, Scharping, Nick Martin, Zach Fulton and Howard. Watson missed some, but also made some big plays, throwing for 351 yards and three touchdowns on 25 of 34 passing. He was only sacked twice, and escaped the pocket several times, including on a beautiful play that led to Jordan Akins' second touchdown. And oh yes, the tight ends made an appearance, with three TDs between Akins and Darren Fells. They were very good on third downs, going 6 of 10.
Negatives: Watson's fumble on the first possession was just a bad football play and put his team in an early hole. The running game, so effective the first two weeks, was nearly invisible, averaging just 2.2 per carry. Watson threw a horrible fourth quarter pick but was bailed out by a defensive penalty. He also had a interception dropped on the same drive. Those mistakes can't happen in the fourth quarter. He also held the ball way too long on too many occasions. Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a long field goal at the half and an extra point.
Positives: J.J. Watt had a big game with two and a half sacks and the line was able to get pressure on Phillip Rivers. Whitney Mercilus had another strip sack, and the Texans had five for the game. The pressure was a necessity against a beat-up LA line and the Texans took advantage. They held the Chargers to three points in the second half.
Negatives: The Chargers picked on Jonathan Joseph all day. The veteran has simply lost the ability to play at an even average level. They also were penalized far too often, including three times on the TD drive right before the half. The rest of the secondary was OK, but Joseph was seeing most of the action. They were bad again on third and long, and once on fourth and long on the Chargers fourth-quarter drive. They allowed the Chargers to convert twice on fourth down on the final drive. They could not stop New Orleans on the final drive in week 1. They did not stop Jacksonville last week. But this time, they finally got a stop on fourth down and won the game.
The bottom line
The Texans rarely get road wins against good teams, and even more rarely against top tier quarterbacks. They got both. They dominated the second half, came up with some big plays and exit with a 2-1 record, tied for the lead in the AFC South with the Colts. Make no mistake, this was a very good win, one that shows what they can be. There are still some things to clean up, but this was their best overall effort of the young season.