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 Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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