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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Composite image by Jack Brame.

There's an elephant in the room when it comes to the Houston Texans. No, it's not Bill O'Brien. He's the ominous black cloud that hoovers over the whole building. That cloud is like a slow moving weather system that's constantly dumping rain and flooding the city. Eventually, it'll pass, we'll rebuild and recover from it.

It's not even the McNair family. Cal and Janice are the building itself. It exists, but needs people around and operating it in order for it to fully function. Sure, it could use some work. After all, it's almost twenty years old and could probably use a facelift. It happens when buildings age and are only taken care of or held to minimal standards.

The elephant in the room is Deshaun Watson. More specifically, his progress as a franchise/superstar quarterback. I've heard different people talk about this in one way, shape, form or whatever. AJ and Fred covered it on ESPN Houston's The Blitz. My friend @itsDanielBsr tweeted it and brought it up as well. There were others who talked about this topic, but these were the two places I encountered it in which I could pay closer attention.

When it comes to Watson, most people believe he's a great talent. However, there is a growing sentiment that it's time for him to take the next step. Watson turned 25 on September 14. He signed his four-year extension about a week before his birthday. When you're getting paid like a top quarterback and people recognize you as one of the better young quarterbacks, there comes a time when you need to poop or get off the pot.

When calling Watson to the carpet, people will call O'Brien into question. O'Brien is a factor in holding Watson back some. He's been the play-caller his whole time here in Houston up until this year when he allegedly turned it over to Tim Kelly. We've all seen how that has gone. O'Brien is also the general manager that traded away Watson's top target in DeAndre Hopkins. These type of things can hinder a young quarterback's growth and development, but at what point do we stop blaming O'Brien and start looking at Watson?

Some will point to the offensive line as a key factor as to why Watson isn't progressing. We've seen him escape sacks and create plays out of thin air. But when is it time to call him to the carpet for not going through his reads and/or making a check-down? He often escapes sacks and looks downfield, but should he be looking to scramble more often? Should he be reading progressions better? These intimate details are answers we won't ever get, but we hope we can understand that Watson is making his reads and decisions the way he's supposed to.

Whether it's his big extension, his bumbling idiot of a head coach, his lack of protection, or his lack of weapons, fans will eventually stop giving Watson a pass. Del said it best on ESPN Houston's The Bench: When will people stop bringing up Clemson when talking about Watson's greatness? NFL quarterbacks have their college career talked about in their rookie seasons. After that, it's all about what have you done for me lately. I sincerely hope Watson realizes his tremendous potential. He's a star now and a superstar in the making. The one thing that he needs is the success on the field that will catapult him into the upper echelon of the other top talents at his position. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Pat Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Lamar Jackson all have either a league MVP award and/or a Super Bowl ring. If Watson is to be mentioned in that rarefied air, he needs to start taking the necessary steps. The clock is ticking and people are watching. Your move Deshaun.

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