Texans 27, Raiders 24
Texans vs Raiders: Good, bad and ugly
The Texans improved to 5-3 by outlasting the Raiders in yet another come from behind win. Here are my observations:
-Deshaun Watson was did everything he had to do to help his team win. He went 27/39 for 279 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for another 46 yards on 10 carries. His third touchdown pass was highlight reel material as he threw it with one eye open after escaping a sack and being kicked in the face!
-DeAndre Hopkins was Watson's favorite target. what a surprise. Hopkins didn't have any of the three touchdown passes Watson threw, but he routinely caught the tough passes to keep the chains moving. His 11 catches on 13 targets for 109 yards speaks to the level of comfort these two guys have with one another.
-Whitney Mercilus continues to play like he's pre-injury Whitney. Six tackles and two tackles for loss, including one big hit on Josh Jacobs. He was able to pressure Derek Carr a few times, but didn't manage a sack. I can see him pushing for a Pro Bowl nod if he maintains this level of play.
-First Raiders play from scrimmage, I saw Benardrick McKinney get caught in the trash trying to slide down the line and Josh Jacobs ran for a 13 yard gain. He also shot a gap and missed Jacobs on another first quarter run. This isn't what one would expect from a guy who was given a $55 million dollar extension.
-The offensive line woes continued against the Raiders. The run game was non-existent outside Watson until the fourth quarter when Carlos Hyde picked it up. They also gave up three sacks and had several more pre-snap penalties. Oh, and Laremy Tunsil went down with a shoulder injury and didn't return.
-Woes you say? Let's talk about the woes in the defensive backfield. They gave up 285 yards passing against a team that has been run heavy because they suck so bad. Injuries bit them again this game as well. They're basically playing with whoever they can find that can also stay healthy.
-The Texans are one of three teams in the league to not produce any points on their opening drive this season. They join the Jets and Saints in this category. Failing to establish your offense early is a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, it didn't come back to haunt them against the Raiders. However it is something they need to rectify if they expect to make a run.
-Watson's eye was swollen after being kicked. Eye injuries are nothing to play with because they can't be rehabbed or repaired. Once you damage them, that's it. Over the next few days, pay attention to his eye and what they say about it. Looks as if he'll be OK, but man that was scary.
-J.J. Watt (shoulder) and Lonnie Johnson Jr (concussion) both went out in the first half with injuries and didn't return. This thinned an already thin secondary and hurt the pass rush. Johnson Jr will be in concussion protocol and will might miss next week's game or more depending on severity. Watt jogged off the field and didn't appear too seriously hurt, but it turned out he had a torn pec and is lost for the season again.
While this win wasn't without its losses (the injuries), it was pleasing. Watson managed to get his backs and tight ends involved in the red zone. Hopkins continues to make the chains move in routine fashion. Hyde has proven to be a steal, as well as Duke Johnson. Garreon Conley left a lot to be desired, but it was his first game in a Texans uniform. If this team can get and stay healthy, they'll be an AFC contender. However, if health and mental mistakes continue to plague them, off to an early vacation they'll go. Props to Bill O'Brien for adjusting and calling a good game. Let's hope he keeps this up. Up next are the Jags in a game being played across the Pond. Better wake up early next weekend.