Falcon Points

Texans get big win in Los Angeles, knocking off the Chargers 27-20

Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

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:'

Offense

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.

Defense

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.

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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