The Houston Texans, coming off their first loss since week three, defeated the New York Jets on an NFL Saturday special by a final score of 29-22.
In the first quarter of play, the Texans defense was able to get stops easily and hand the ball to starting quarterback Deshaun Watson. The offense looked as effective as the defense, as they effortlessly drove down the field and almost got a touchdown on their opening drive. However, the referees blew a controversial whistle on a key third down play when it seemed Watson was breaking a defender off his back and breaking towards the far sideline. The play was stopped and ruled a sack, forcing a fourth down.
Also, in the first offensive drive for the Texans, running back Lamar Miller went down with an injury and didn’t return in the quarter. The Jets kicked a field goal and tied it up 3-3 with just over two minutes left in the quarter, and that is how the first 15 minutes of the game went for the Texans.
The second quarter of action brought another offensive drive that ended in a field goal. However, there was no drama for this drive; it was just a missed opportunity to get into the endzone.
A big play for the defense came from superstar defensive end J.J. Watt, who forced the ball out of the running back’s hands. Nose tackle D.J. Reader recovered the fumble to set up a huge 45-yard passing touchdown from Watson to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. This touchdown extended the Texans’ lead to 10 with 8:14 left in the first half of play.
A field goal by kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn was good from 53 yards to make it a 16-3 game with 4:39 left in the first half. The Jets would score a touchdown with 30 seconds left in the half, but missed the extra point; this made the score 16-9 heading into the locker room.
Through the first half of play, Hopkins was having a monster game with 108 yards on five receptions and a touchdown through the air. Also stepping up in the first half was the Texans defense, as veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph led the team with three tackles at the half and two assists. Watt had a sack in the first half that came in the first defensive drive of the game for Houston.
To start the second half, Lamar Miller returned to the Houston sidelines and looked all right after his first-quarter injury. The first offensive drive of the second half failed on a three-and-out with two sacks allowed. It wasn’t a great start on offense. Later on, the Texans defense would allow the Jets to make it a one-point contest with a 13-yard passing touchdown (but another missed extra point) to make it 16-15.
Another big factor for the Texans in the third quarter was poor blocking from the offensive line, allowing three sacks of Watson in the first seven minutes of the third quarter of play. Of course, this has not just been a problem today, but for the entire season and really for the past few years for the Texans franchise.
In the final 15 minutes of play, Houston would get a field goal to extend their lead to 19-15. However, their troubles continued with blocking on the offensive side of the football, as they continued to allow more and more sacks of Watson. This let the Jets gain momentum and confidence to get back into the game.
A huge defensive holding penalty was called on the Texans, leading to a touchdown for the Jets. They took their first lead in the game with less than six minutes left and a 22-19 score. But on the Texans’ following possession, Watson found Hopkins in the endzone on an amazing grab for the game-winning touchdown. A field goal at the close of the game sealed the victory by a final of 29-22.
For the Texans, starting quarterback and emerging star Deshaun Watson passed 22-for-28 for 294 yards and two touchdowns, both to Hopkins. Watson also ran for 26 yards on four carries and once again was the leading rusher in the game. Also performing well in the game was Fairbairn, who finished the night five-for-five in field goals, with his longest being from 53 yards. Fairbairn finished the game with 17 of the Houston’s 29 points.
The Texans will take their first double-digit winning season in the O’Brien era north to take on the Philadelphia Eagles; kickoff is at noon on Sunday, Dec. 23. The Texans will be hoping for the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans to lose so that Houston can win their third AFC South divisional title in four years and their fifth in franchise history.
*Stats courtesy of NFL.com