TEXANS 20, BILLS 13

Veteran defensive backs give Texans a 20-13 win

DeAndre Hopkins had the only offensive touchdown. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans most veteran players came up big when it counted to secure a 20-13 home win. Big interceptions at the end of the game by Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson moved Houston to 3-3 on the year and kept them moving fast up the divisional standings.

It was the long tenured veteran cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph who would make sure Houston walked out with a victory. Although the Texans defense once again held the opposing team under 300 total yards offensively and got turnovers to get their team a short field, offensive turnovers and short fields in the second half made it difficult to keep points off the board.

The Bills came alive after halftime, rallying from a 10-0 deficit to take a 13-10 lead late in the fourth quarter. It could have been much worse. After Deshaun Watson’s second interception started the second half of the game, Buffalo took a short drive down to the 5-yard line. But veteran Kareem Jackson made a huge one-man goal line stand at the 4-yard line. On second down he made a great open field tackle that jarred the ball loose for an incomplete pass, then stepped in front of a Josh Allen pass on third down to force the Bills to settle for three points.

It was Houston’s other long serving cornerback Jonathan Joseph who would win the game with a stellar play. With under two minutes left and Houston having just tied the score 13-13 with Ka’imi Fairbairn’s second field goal, Joseph stepped in front of an outside pass from quarterback Nathan Peterman for a 28-yard pick-six and a 20-13 Texans lead. Five plays later Kareem Jackson would catch Peterman’s second interception to seal the victory for the home team.

Defensively, the Texans frustrated Bills quarterbacks early and often. They forced starter Josh Allen to have only 45 yards in the first half and take two sacks (J.J. Watt and Benardrick McKinney each getting one). He would leave the game in the third quarter with 84 yards on 10 of 17 passing. Nathan Peterman took over and led the Bills’ second half comeback. He finished the game 6 of 12 for 61 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  

This was not a good day for Deshaun Watson and the Houston offense. They jumped out to an early 10-0 lead after two special teams plays, but they only moved the ball a total of 36 yards in those drives. The first score came on a 13-yard reception by DeAndre Hopkins after a muffed punt was recovered by Brennan Scarlett at the 29-yard line. Ka’imi Fairbairn’s first field goal came after a blocked punt by Tyrell Adams resulted in another recovery by Scarlett. That drive netted only 7-yards on a three-and-out.

It was probably Watson’s worst performance of the year. He was sacked 7 times for 35 yards, threw two interceptions and lost one of his three fumbles. He had 177 yards passing on 15 of 25 attempts with only one touchdown. Obviously, his injured chest meant play calling to keep him from running around too much and getting hit, but the offensive line can’t hold up against a decent pass rush. It was a contributing factor to being 3 of 13 on third down conversions, a horrible rate for any offense. This led to a limited game from DeAndre Hopkins. He finished with only 63 yards on five receptions with the offense's only touchdown.

Houston got a lot of help from the Bills by way of penalty, Buffalo committing 12 of them for 104 yards. But once again being held under 100-yards rushing as a team forced them into long yardage situations. Lamar Miller averaged 4.3 yards per carry in the second half, but only had 6 carries. Alfred Blue averaged 6 yards per carry in the first half, but only had 3 carries for 2 yards in the second half. As a team they averaged on 3.1 yards per rush, only about a yard less than the 4.3 yards per pass on the day.

 

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Keep an eye on Kevin Harvick. Photo by Wiki Commons

It's been a season of surprises as the NASCAR Cup Series begins its West Coast swing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is one of NASCAR's many mile and a half tracks, but this one is different as it is much more bumpy and when this track gets in the sun, it gets slippery as well. The track is a lot more narrow than the other mile and a half tracks as well, so there will be a lot more close quarter racing.

Last week at Homestead, William Byron pulled away from the field and went on to claim his second career victory. The Charlotte native battled back from early tire issues and ran as low as 31st until he was able to claw his way back to the front around stage 2 when he drove around the two JGR teammates of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin to take the stage victory. There has been a lot of expectations and hype around this young phenom but in his first three years, it took him a while to grow into a race winner. It wasn't until last year when Byron claimed his first win at the Daytona fall race. This year he was paired with crew-chief Rudy Fugle. This pair amassed tons of success when they worked together in the Truck Series back in 2016 when they won seven races. It seems now that the pair could be back to their winning ways. This looks like this could be a good pairing down the line.

As we all know, this has been the season of surprises and those surprises continued last week as Michael McDowell went on to his third consecutive top ten finish as he finished eighth. McDowell has been sort of a journeyman driver. He has raced for teams such as LeaVine Family Racing and the now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing where he got his start. While it has only been three races, he's in the midst of a career year beginning with a victory in this year's Daytona 500. Many thought that victory was a fluke and that he was "wasting a playoff spot," but since then he has proved his haters wrong as he currently sits fourth in the points. Will this streak continue? I think it can. His string of good runs puts him in an advantageous position as he gets to start up front each week and knowing how important qualifying was, he has really been able to take advantage of this. Look for the #34 Loves Ford Mustang to build on this.

The favorite for this week's race has to be Joey Logano. In the fifteen races Logano has started in here, he has ten top fives and two victories including last season's spring Vegas race in February. He hasn't got off to the best start as it's been three up and down races for him. From finishing second at the Daytona road course to following that up with a twenty-fifth last week at Homestead. This week though I believe he can get everything back on track with a good run or a victory.

The driver that I am picking to win this week is Kevin Harvick. The future Hall of Famer has been stout this season with a 6th and 5th place finish. The speed for Harvick and his team have been there, but they just haven't been able to get the win. But this week he's going to a track he has excelled at big time. He will start from the pole this Sunday and that should really scare the whole field. He has two victories here and twelve top tens since his beginning back in 2001. I look for him to get his third victory here and begin another run for his second championship.

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