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.

 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome