The Houston Texans are 4-0 in the first four weeks of the PML season. The Texans were 15 points away from starting the season 0-4 if a few key breaks didn’t swing their way in each of their first four games. The wins weren’t always pretty but when posed with the alternative, it’s better to come out on top in the end. The Texans have a few standout players that have had remarkable games and have become captains for the team. Deshaun Watson and Justin Reid have been named the team captains moving forward for the rest of the season. The Texan’s management team would like to congratulate these players on their tenacity, their leadership, and their ability to help the team succeed when faced against defeating odds.
The Texan’s have been one of the luckier teams in the league so far. They haven’t been plagued with any debilitating injuries to their star players. The ability to field all of their players has made a huge impact to the success that this team has found early on in the season.
The Shootout in Arrowhead…
A Patrick Mahomes led offense is never going to sit quietly and allow you to shut them down. The Houston Texans were able to stop Mahomes on his first drive, but it was the Chief’s tenacious defense that struck the first blow in this heavyweight fight. Safety Juan Thornhill intercepted a wobbly throw from Watson and returned it for 6, allowing KC to draw first blood. The Chiefs doubled the Texans in time of possession, but this game never tilted to one side until Chiefs halfback Damien Williams coughed up the ball on the goal line. Linebacker Mckinney was the one who forced the fumble. This turnover gave the Texans the momentum that they needed and Deshaun Watson would later find TE Darren Fells for a 24 yard touchdown that sealed the victory for the Texans with 2:53 left on the clock.
Watson finished the game with 4 interceptions but countered his turnovers with 5 touchdowns. The Texans had 345 yards through the air and 130 yards on the ground. The Texan’s head coach was asked about all of the turnovers, but he stated that the team was filled with jitters and the turnovers needed to be reduced in order for this team to stay on top.
AFC Defensive Player of the Week Honors (Week 1)
Free Safety Justin Reid had 10 total tackles, 1 interception, and 1 touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 1 and was recognized with the player of the week award. His performance catapulted the Texans ahead of the Chiefs despite facing short fields for the KC offense. Reid is a crucial piece to the Texans defense and it is well known in the locker room that he is a voice for reason and leadership in key situations.
Watson vs Jackson.. a True Test of Speed
Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are a football team that want to establish the tone of the game by running the football down your throat. The Houston Texan’s offensive attack is the opposite, they want to score fast and set the tone for the game. The Ravens got the ball first and were able to drive down the field where Lamar Jackson found rookie standout receiver Duvernay in the end zone for a 3 yard catch. The Texans were able to get three points on their first drive. The Texans held the Baltimore offense to minimal yardage and seemingly had all the momentum going into halftime. Deshaun Watson found a wide open Kenny Stills in the end zone for a 6 yard touchdown with one second left in the 2nd quarter to give the Texans a 24-17 lead. The Ravens decided to take the touchback on the kickoff and started at their own 25 yard line with 1 second on the clock. Lamar Jackson kept the ball and ran past several Texan defenders and at midfield juked three defenders at once, and ran the ball in for a 75 yard touchdown. The Ravens quickly regained the momentum, however, they were outscored 14-10 in the second half but still had a chance to win the game with 39 seconds left in the 4th quarter. The Ravens ended up turning the ball over and the Texans improved to 2-0 on the year
The Texan’s turnovers in week 1 bled just slightly over in this game as Deshaun Watson threw two interceptions. He did finish the day with 4 touchdowns and helped lead his team to victory late in the fourth quarter.
The biggest question coming out of today’s game is that Texan defense. They allowed 38 points in back to back weeks and over 400 yards of offense by opposing teams. The Texans were able to sack Jackson three times this game after only getting to Mahomes once in week 1. The Texans will look to limit the turnovers altogether as they develop their game plan against the Pittsburgh Steelers next week. A crucial takeaway from today’s game is that Will Fuller is Watson’s go to receiver. He has now racked up 6 touchdowns in two games and has singlehandedly blown the top off of two very good defenses in back to back weeks. The Steelers are a team that appear to be blitz heavy so far this year and week 3’s matchup will pit Fuller’s speed against their fearsome front seven.
Late Game Heroics… The Texans head coach Bull emphasized defense this week at practice in preparation for their game against the Steelers. The Texan’s offense has been prolific in the clutch but their defense while having moments of strength have all but given up late in this past two games. This week’s practice also emphasized fourth quarter fatigue. Deshaun Watson came out the gate firing on all cylinders. He connected with six different receivers this week but Will Fuller continues to lead the pack including a game winning touchdown with 12 seconds left on the clock. The Texans were up 42-24 heading into the fourth quarter against the Steelers and they thought they had the game won. The Texans only turned the ball over once the entire game (on a forced fumble) and punted the ball once. Despite the focus of this week’s practice, the Texan’s defense played awful in the fourth quarter allowing the Steelers to march up and down the field and eventually scoring 29 points. The Steelers were within one score when they surprised the Texan’s special teams unit with an onside kick. The Texan’s head coach tried calling a timeout, but the referee was out of sight. The Steelers recovered and proceeded to march down the field again and punch the ball in on a James Conner carry that FS Justin Reid had wrapped up for a loss, but Conner broke free. The Steelers took a 53-49 lead but they left 21 seconds on the clock.. and Deshaun Watson made them pay for it. Coach Bull dialed up a streak to Brandon Cooks on the left side with Will Fuller running a deep post in the slot. He left it in Watson’s hands on whom to throw the ball to. Watson noticed that the defense was in cover 2 and lofted the ball deep across the middle of field in stride to Will Fuller who had two defenders chasing behind him. Fuller outran both defenders and scored the game winning touchdown, but Coach Bull knew something had to change on defense.
The Texan’s defense played well all game long, forcing turnover after turnover, but their soft shell zone coverage was picked apart in the fourth quarter. After the game, the media questioned the Texan’s defensive play calling. Coach Bull declined to speak on the almost epic fail that his team experienced and vowed that the ship would be corrected. The Texan’s face off against the Minnesota Vikings at home in week 4 and superstar halfback Dalvin Cook is having a hell of a year already. The Vikings like to use all of their backs to promote fresh running legs, so the Texan defense must be prepared for a short, quick passing game that will be set up by a strong rushing attack.
A Fourth Quarter to Remember..
The Vikings relied on their rushing attack in the first quarter and bullied their way down the field to a 10-0 start after the first quarter. The Texans rallied back when Watson found tight end Daniel Fells in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown. An 18 yard Fairbarn field goal, proceeded by a three yard Dalvin Cook touchdown run made the score 17-10 Vikings going into halftime. The Vikings and the Texans traded shots back and forth in the third quarter. The Vikings continued to lean on Dalvin Cook and company because the Texans were giving up an average of 4 yards per carry. Watson found Fuller for a deep crosser over the middle for a 65 yard touchdown that made the score 24-17 Vikings heading into the 4th quarter. Dalvin Cook was taking majority of the carries heading into the fourth quarter, but it is speculated that the Vikings wanted to use a rotation to keep each back fresh. Dalvin Cook had two touchdowns already in the game and he is the far superior back, but Adams and Mattison only mustered 51 yards between the two of them. The Texan’s offense turned on the juice in the fourth quarter and they leaned heavily on the back of Duke Johnson. He added a pair of rushing touchdowns, one to open the quarter and another to seal the victory with 2:54 left in the game.
The Texan’s defense has been highly scrutinized the last three weeks for giving up leads going into the fourth quarter, but they made crucial stops that allowed their offense to get them back in this game. The held the Vikings to 340 yards of total offense and forced one interception. The statistics alone do not scream sensation, but after the Vikings rushing attack was gaining positive yards all game long, their defense stiffened up and proved that they could be better than how they were playing. This 31-27 victory over the Vikings helped the Texans remain undefeated for the month of September. The overall play of the team could have been better, but it is no secret who the most valuable player in each game has been.
The Texan’s 4-0 start to the season hasn’t come easy and a lot of players contributed but there are a few players who stood out among the rest.
Top Offensive Contributors –
QB Deshaun Watson – 91/123 1,445 yards, 15 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a 125.2 QBR HB Duke Johnson – 58 attempts for 329 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. 24 catches and 193 yards, WR Will Fuller – 29 receptions for 671 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Top Defensive Contributors –
LB Benardrick Mckinney – 20 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, and 1 touchdown. CB Keion Crossen – 12 solo tackles and 2 sacks. FS Justin Reid – 19 solo tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 touchdown.
Player of the Quarter –
Deshaun Watson is the Houston’s Texan’s franchise quarterback, team captain, and the light of the team. His attitude and how he plays determines the outcome of the game for this team. He is the player of the month for the team. Watson has grown in each game that he has played. The Texan’s are under new management but Watson is the team’s future and they plan to rely heavily on his arm this cycle. Watson’s strength comes from his ability to evade defenders and escape the pocket, but so far the team hasn’t made much use of his ability to run the football. He only has 57 yards rushing on 8 attempts. Coach Bull has vowed to make better use of every weapon the Watson has at his disposal.
The Texan’s 4-0 start could have easily been an 0-4 start but their team found ways to win in the clutch each week, even if there was mere seconds left on the game clock. The mishaps that continue to occur in each game are gone over at practice and the Texans are moving in the right direction to become a better and more versatile team.