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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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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