After their third straight loss, the Houston Texans and their fan base were worried. Deshaun Watson was back, along with Will Fuller and JJ Watt. The Texans were finally healthy, but they could not finish those first three games out.
Then they started winning. Eight games, in fact. Eight games in a row. This winning streak holds the record for the longest win streak after an 0-3 start in NFL history.
Many of the games during the win streak had been close. Some were wins as a result of a field goal. The Texans knew they had to play better after those close wins and O’Brien said after Monday’s game “we really haven’t done anything yet,” proving he knows their are still improvements to be made. While improvements can still be made this is not the 4-12 team of last season.
Tonight’s win in prime time provided a more well-rounded performance for the Texans. After being down 10-0 due to a long touchdown pass to Titans tight end Jonnu Smith, the Texans came back with 27 unanswered points.
Demaryius Thomas caught his first touchdown as a Texan on a 12 yard throw from Watson, who ran into the end zone for a 15 yard touchdown soon after.
Lamar Miller then ran for a 97 yard touchdown (the second time he had run for 97 yards in his career). Miller finished the contest with 162 yards on 12 attempts. The Texans ended up setting a franchise record for most rushing yards in a regular season game with 281 yards thanks to contributions from Watson and backup running back Alfred Blue. The half ended with Texans leading 24-10. Demaryius Thomas caught his second touchdown of the night in the second half after not seeing a single target in last week’s win. On a night where the Texans offense took off, DeAndre Hopkins had a rather quiet night, notching 5 receptions for 74 yards.
The Texans showed up on defense too. They allowed 17 points and let Marcus Mariota complete 22 of 23 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns, yet they stacked up 6 sacks and a fumble recovery that sealed the game for them.
The defense came up with a a huge stop in the red zone on a 4th and 1 attempt where Vrabel gave the ball to tight end Luke Stocker who was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Vrabel would also lose a challenge in the second half after a 34 yard rush from Deshaun Watson that looked like it may have potentially been fumbled.
The Texans hold a two game lead in the AFC South and their schedule for the rest of the season isn’t particularly daunting. Their remaining schedule has them facing the Browns, Colts, Jets, Eagles, and Jaguars.
The Texans week 14 matchup against the Colts will be a big game as the Colts are still in the hunt for a wildcard spot and are in the middle of a 5 game win streak themselves.
There are still noticeable flaws in the Texans’ offensive line, but Watson’s ability to throw out of the pocket has proven successful for them this year and their trade for Demaryius Thomas is proving to be fruitful when they choose to utilize him. With JJ Watt back and the defense showing up each week it looks like this team is what last year’s Texans were meant to look like.
Monday’s win may prove to be a bigger win than most given that Texans owner Bob McNair passed away on November 23rd at the age of 81. The team wore decals on their helmets for the game with McNair’s initials to honor him as well as a moment of silence before the game.
The Texans will look to extend their winning streak to 9 games when they host the Cleveland Browns next Sunday.
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