Texans pull off another ugly escape in Denver, but are sitting pretty at 6-3

Jordan Thomas caught the opening touchdown. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Like a lot of Texans wins, Sunday’s 19-17 victory over Denver was not pretty. Deshaun Watson did not put up cartoon numbers. The offensive line struggled against the Broncos’ rugged defense. The Texans defense struggled at times and forced just one turnover.

In the end, it did not matter. The Texans got two TD passes from Watson to Jordan Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins and a couple key defensive stops when it counted to escape Denver with a win.

Oh, and a missed field goal at the buzzer from Brandon McManus certainly helped salvage the victory.

No matter how non-sexy the win might have been, it looks beautiful in the standings, where the Texans are now 6-3 after their 0-3 start. They are in control in the AFC South with the six straight wins.

And make no mistake, the Broncos were no easy out. Despite their 3-6 record, they have played well, especially at home, where they did lose to two of the best teams in football - the LA Rams and Kansas City.

On Sunday, Denver played the Texans basically even throughout the game, and took its first lead in the third quarter at 17-16. But the Texans answered with a field goal to retake the lead in the fourth. Case Keenum had better yardage numbers than Watson, with 26 of 42 for 290 yards and a touchdown.

The Texans defense responded once they got the lead, with back to back stops that included sacks by Jadeveon Clowney on one drive and J.J. Watt on the other.

The Texans got the ball with over seven minutes left after that, and ran the clock down to 3:29 before giving Keenum and the Broncos another chance. The Broncos nearly took advantage, converting twice on fourth down to set up McManus’ 51-yard field goal attempt to win the game.

He missed wide right, and the Texans get a chance to get home, heal up and get ready for a stretch drive that will include all three remaining divisional games at home.

Watson was a solid 17 of 24 for 217 yards, two touchdowns and a finished third straight game without a turnover, a huge key on Sunday. Hopkins was big again, with 10 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.

The Texans were outgained 348-290. They scored a whopping 3 points in the second half. They allowed four sacks and averaged just 3 yards per rush. But they escaped. Would it have been nice to see them make a play at the end to stop the drive? Yes. It always looks better if you make the play to win it rather than have someone on the other team fail. 

Still, so what? Who cares if it was ugly?

Things look pretty attractive from atop the division. And now they have some time to get heathy. 

That would be even more beautiful. 

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Megan Thee Stallion threw out the first pitch. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Seems like only yesterday that our Houston Astros were partying downtown at their 2022 World Series Championship parade. But in a blink, the team returned to Minute Maid Park to kick off Opening Day of the 2023 season on Thursday, March 30 against the Chicago White Sox.

CultureMap was there as our world champions were joined by superstars Mark Wahlberg and Cody Johnson and hometown favorites Megan Thee Stallion and Travis Scott (Hot Girl Megan threw out the first pitch). Wahlberg, a close friend of third base hero Alex Bregman, called Breggy his "favorite Yankee Killer" and wished the new dad and champion a very happy happy birthday (he turned 29 the same day).

Astros owner Jim Crane and wife Whitney literally rode in with the World Championship trophies and joined manager Dusty Baker, Jr. who asked the eager crowd: “Are you ready for another one?” — to an enthusiastic roar. After a big reveal of the new season slogan “Ready 2 Reign” and appearances by Wahlberg, the Cranes, a ceremonial first pitch by Megan, it was game on.

Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez threw five innings, giving up no runs in only 85 pitches and four strikeouts. The game stayed scoreless until the 7th inning, when Yordan Alvarez scored from third base on a wild pitch. White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease threw seven innings and recorded 10 strikeouts, whole tight defense from the 'Stros kept the game scoreless through seven innings — until White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal hit a solo home run in the eighth.

The Astros gave up two more runs in the top of the ninth, then came a mammoth, 442-foot upper-deck home run in the bottom of the inning by star slugger Yordan Alvarez. His blast wasn't enough, however, as the Sox bested the Houston Astros 3-2. Historically, the Astros have won 10 straight Opening Day games.

Broadcast on ESPN, the game was speedy thanks in part to the new pitch clock, starting at 6:08 pm and ending just before 9 pm. Fans can catch the team again at 7:10 pm Friday, March 31 against the Sox as the Astros will receive their World Series rings. The four-game home stand against the Sox runs through Sunday, April 2.

--- Additional reporting by Marco Torres/Marco From Houston

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