Texans 26, Jags 3

Texans vs Jags: Good, bad and ugly, London Edition

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In an early morning London Edition of AFC South action, the Texans throttled the Jags 26-3. It was a close game until the Texans pulled away in the second half. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Fresh off being named AFC Offensive Player of the Month in October, Deshaun Watson continues to show why he's so special. 22/28 for 201 yards and two touchdowns, plus another 37 yards rushing. His best work came in the form of turning into an escape artist and making plays. He's special and I hope he can stay healthy. That, and Bill O'Brien needs to continue to call plays the way he has lately.

-Carlos Hyde was an afterthought. Kenny Stills was a throw-in. Now, both guys are staples in this offense. Hyde had 160 yards rushing and narrowly missed a touchdown. Stills has proven to be more than just a deep threat as he routinely makes tough catches to keep the chains moving. Who would've thought either of these guys would contribute so much when they were traded for just prior to the season starting?

-The defense stepped up big time. While there were some areas that need improvement, I was thoroughly pleased with their performance. They iced the game with three straight turnovers in the 4th quarter (two interceptions and a fumble). They also managed to hold Leonard Fournette to only 72 yards on 16 touches. Doing that to one of the league leaders in yards from scrimmage was perhaps most impressive.

The Bad

-Three offensive penalties on the opening drive for a total of 30 yards are one of the reasons why this team constantly puts itself behind the eight ball to open games. I'm not alone in thinking shooting yourself in the foot and trying to walk it off is a bad idea, am I?

-It took the defense until the last play of the third quarter to finally get a sack. They had no pressures or hits until then either. To say the pass rush was non-existent would be a bit much, but not off base. Gardner Minshew is no Watson, but he is slippery. Missing J.J. Watt hurts, but that's no excuse. They ultimately ended up with two sacks and should've had at least four or more.

-As I mentioned earlier, Hyde narrowly missed a touchdown. Why? Because he didn't change the ball to his outside arm and it was poked out right before he crossed the goal line. All ball carriers are taught to switch the ball to your outside arm when carrying the ball on the sideline. To add insult to injury, he never got his chance to score when the Texans immediately got the ball back. Let's hope he corrects this small issue in the near future.

The Ugly

-It's time for Jonathan Joseph to retire. Sure he got a nice pass break up in the 4th quarter, but he got big faced by Leonard Fournette in the 1st quarter and had to leave the game. Later, he delivered a big hit on Kelan Cole and came out for a few plays. He's no longer the player he was once before. However, he should be retained as a special assistant because of what he can provide the young defensive backs.

-Jags defensive end Calais Campbell was called for helmet to helmet in the 3rd quarter on a Watson scramble. His helmet completely missed Watson and the only thing that hit Watson in the head was his arm. While protecting the quarterbacks has been a point of emphasis for years now, some of these calls are getting ridiculous.

-Former Texans corner A.J. Bouye tried to start something arguing with Dylan Cole between the change over after a turnover. Both guys were held back. The interesting thing here is they're both defensive players and there wasn't anything that happened that could lead to the animosity. I'll be looking for a possible cause, but that looked personal.

The six hour time difference proved to be a non-factor. This win keeps the Texans at pace with the Colts. An early game this week coupled with a bye next week should allow them maximum rest and preparation. They'll need it because they have the Ravens in Baltimore then the Colts, followed by the Patriots, coming to NRG for their next three games. Here's where they can prove themselves to be true contenders. The Colts game is a must-win if they want to win the division. Ravens and Patriots are wins needed to move up the AFC playoff ladder. Hopefully we will see them come out of this midseason test unscathed and battle-tested.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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