FRED FAOUR

Texans use familiar formula to knock off Redskins 23-21

J.J. Watt had a big sack late. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It was grimy. It was ugly. It was also lucky.

As in Lucky No. 7.

The Texans won another close, hard-fought game, beating Washington 23-21 for a seventh consecutive victory after an 0-3 start.

It was the latest in a tough stretch of physical games. The Texans lost both starting guards early in the game and were down to only five offensive linemen. Redskins quarterback Alex Smith appeared to suffer a serious injury in the third quarter, and was replaced by veteran Colt McCoy, who led the Redskins to 14 points and a fourth-quarter lead.

For the second week in a row, an opponent missed a potential game winning field goal at the end of the fourth quarter. But this was a 63-yarder that fell well short.

On the surface, there were five reasons why the Texans could have lost the game:

  1. The Texans once again struggled in the red zone, with one touchdown in three trips.

  2. New acquisition Demaryius Thomas did not have a catch.

  3. Deshaun Watson struggled throughout, throwing two interceptions and nearly throwing several others. Thanks to that, The Texans were minus-1 in the turnover battle. He constantly put his defense in bad situations.

  4. The offensive line could not keep the Redskins off Watson, who was sacked three times and took several vicious hits.

  5. As has been the case forever, they could not guard a tight end, as Jordan Reed had 7 catches for 71 yards and it could have been worse, as Vernon Davis dropped a pass on what would have been a huge gain.

But the good news is despite all that, they escaped with a road win against a team that is leading its division.

They did it because they got a red zone interception by Justin Reid that turned into a 101-yard touchdown return. It was a 14-point swing that made all the difference.

They did it thanks to fourth quarter sacks by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

They did it thanks to two key third-down conversions on their final  drive, one on a holding call on Josh Norman. It left the Redskins with too much to do and not enough time.

They did it because they were able to rush for 139 yards and average 4.5 per carry.

They won because they fought through their shaky play and did just enough, much as they did in Denver.

The end result is a 7-3 record and two-game lead in the AFC South heading into next Monday Night’s showdown with the Titans, who sit at 5-5 in a second place tie with the Colts, who continue to impress after their slow start.

Like a lot of their wins, no matter how it looked, the Texans took care of business. Good? At times. Lucky? Certainly. Ugly?

Yes, but it doesn’t matter. The Texans have won seven in a row, and are sitting pretty in the AFC South.






 

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The Astros will look to bounce back after a tough week. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After a 6-3 record to start the season, the Houston Astros had a tumultuous week to say the least. They were swept by the Tigers, lost 2 of 3 games to the Seattle Mariners and placed five players on the COVID injured list.

The Tigers' new manager AJ Hinch returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since the Astros let him go after the cheating scandal in early 2020.

The Tigers swept the Astros and outscored them 20-8 over their three matchups.

Before the 3rd game of the series, the Astros found out they would be without five players on their active roster. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia were all placed on the COVID-19 injury reserved list.

"It's hard on the team but you have to carry on. The show must go on," manager Dusty Baker said. "And it went on today with some younger players we have here."

Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones and Abraham Toro were called up as well as Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson who made their major league debuts last week.

The Tigers were able to score runs early on Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers and Jake Odorizzi (who made his Astros debut) and none of these starters lasted more than five innings in the outings.

Yuli Gurriel was the one Astros bright spot against the Tigers as he had 7 hits and drove in 2 runs. He is still continuing to hit the ball consistently as he finished the series with a .429 batting average.

After a 1-5 home stand the Astros looked to bounce back on the road against the division leading Seattle Mariners (you read that correctly).

Friday night proved to be the Astros' best offensive performance since their home opener on April 8th against the A's.

They scored five runs on Yusei Kikuchi through 7 innings behind good hitting from Aledmys Diaz, Chas McCormick and De Goti who drove in two runs on his first major league hit.

The Astros had a 5-2 lead at this point, but Seattle was able to score 4 unanswered to win the game.

Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor and Ryne Stanek were credited with those four runs.

Ryan Pressly tried to clean up the bottom of the 9th inning after Stanek put the first two batters on base. His effort was unsuccessfully as Ty France hit a game-ending single that scored J.P. Crawford from second to secure a Mariners victory.

Saturday was the best game of the week for the Astros as they finally broke their six-game losing streak.

After failing to pitch more than five innings on Monday against the Tigers, Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings with 91 pitches.

He struck out six batters and gave up only 4 hits.

"That's what aces do," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys like (Greinke) ... they stop the bleeding and we're about bled out."

Greinke finished the game with 2,705 career strikeouts. He is now third amongst active players in strikeouts behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Ryan Pressly got some redemption too as he threw a perfect 9th inning giving him his first save of the year.

The Astros won this game 1-0 as Taylor Jones drove in the game's only run with an RBI single.

Sunday's game ended the Astros week with a whimper, as the Mariners bested Houston 7-2.

Jake Odorizzi got off to a good start, but he gave up three hits and was pulled after Mitch Haniger's fifth-inning triple made it a 3-2 lead over the Astros.

Odorizzi is now (0-2) with a 10.57 ERA after two starts with the Astros.

Houston's offensive woes continued Sunday, as Aledmys Díaz had their only hit, an RBI double in the second inning that fell in when outfielder José Marmolejos lost the ball in the sun.

"It's tough to take when you only got one hit and the one hit we got was lost in the sun," Baker said.

UP NEXT: The Astros (7-8) will finish their road trip with a two game series against the Rockies who have the worst record in the league (4-12) before starting an eight-game homestead.

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