TEXANS 19, BRONCOS 17
Texans win sixth straight, earn tough 19-17 win in Denver
The Texans didn’t let the altitude in Denver stop their win streak as they got their sixth in a row, 19-17. They caught a break when Broncos kicker Brian McManus missed the final 51-yard field goal as time expired, but defensively they earned it. This was a tough game because each team’s defense limited the running game, and that meant pass rush was a factor. After two weeks of relatively few hits taken, Deshaun Watson took a beating from the Broncos. He took four sacks and with all the pressure ran the ball six times for 38 yards, just two yards short of the team lead for the day.
Houston has been running the ball well recently with Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue, but they managed only 59 yards between the two of them. On 27 attempts, that’s a 2.2 yard per carry average. Watson averaged 6.3 yards per carry on his scrambles. His still managed a good game through the air where he completed 17 of 24 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
The Texans started the game fast, scoring the first touchdown on an opening drive in Houston’s last 13 games for a 7-0 lead. After rookie safety Justin Reid recovered the day’s only turnover, a fumble by Devontae Booker; Watson found his favorite target DeAndre Hopkins for a 16-yard touchdown. A missed extra point and Houston was leading 13-3 in the second quarter. Ka’imi Fairbairn made both of his field goals on the day and those points were the difference in the game.
The Texans defense had an up and down day. They limited the Broncos to only 75 yards on the ground, but a 14-yard rushing touchdown by Booker tightened the score in the second quarter, 13-10. Denver would take the lead 17-16 after halftime on a tight window throw by Case Keenum to tight end Jeff Heuerman, who seemed to be a thorn in Houston’s side all day. His 10 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown were big for the Broncos offense, including one to help move the ball closer on the final drive. Houston would take back the lead and hold off the Broncos but there was more than one drive that looked like it could allow the Broncos to regain the lead.
The Texans defense held up on the strength of their front seven. Second half sacks by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney helped end consecutive drives in the fourth quarter, but they weren’t the only ones in Keenum’s face and he was forced to throw the ball away multiple times. The secondary also had another solid day, including Shareece Wright who was starting for the injured Jonathan Joseph. He made a great play on a pass in the end zone to knock it from the hands of Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton to save a touchdown. Ultimately, Denver was able to throw the ball well at the end of the game and had a chance to win it with a field goal.
Another solid win for Houston who was only 30% converting third downs and had seven penalties for 60 yards. DeAndre Hopkins continues to be the most dangerous player on the field, bringing in 10 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown. And Bill O’Brien did a great job early on taking advantage of the newly acquired Demaryius Thomas who had three catches for 61 yards in the game. He caught two of them for 49 yards on the opening drive that ended in a touchdown to Jordan Thomas who now has three in the last two games as a rookie. It will be good to see this continue next week as Houston travels to Washington D.C. to face the Redskins.