Houston, TX— The Houston Texans have won six games in a row after losing three games to start the season.
Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard field goal as time expired, leaving Demaryius Thomas a winner in his homecoming as the Houston Texans escaped Denver with 19-17 win over the Broncos. Thomas finished with three receptions for 61 yards, but two of them were back-to-back for 31 and 18 yards on the Texans’ opening touchdown drive.
After their loss to the New York Giants in Week 3, Houston was minus -2 in turnover differential. In the six games that they have won, they’ve been plus -6, and are now at plus -4 on the season. With the victory, the Texans are just the fourth team to start 0-3 and then win six in a row, since the 1970 Giants. After falling behind 17-16 late in the third quarter, the Texans put together a 51-yard drive that set up a 37-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn for the margin of victory.
Deshaun Watson finished with 213 yards passing and a pair of TD’s with no turnovers. Watson has thrown 36 career TD passes in his first 16 NFL games, which puts him with Kurt Warner and Dan Marino as the only Quarterbacks in NFL history.
The opening drive the Texans march straight down the field, and Watson lofted a beauty of a pass to the left side of the end zone. The rookie tight end Jordan Thomas came down with the pass and scored the first touchdown of the game.
It was stupendous that Watson and the offense were able to play turnover free for the third straight game. The pass rush started to get to them but they did just enough to stake the Texans to a two point lead, letting the defense finish the job. With the Texans missing some key defenders, including leading tackler Zach Cunningham and Jonathan Joseph, holding the Broncos to 17 points was admirable.
The offense was not very explosive, but found ways to move the ball when it had to. DeAndre Hopkins had a big day as well, with 10 receptions 105 yards and TD. “It’s always big, at every level,” Hopkins said of his lack of picks. “I’ve been doing my same thing: taking chances when I need to.” Hopkins scored on a 16-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter to give the Texans 13-3 lead with 11:05 left in the second quarter. Hopkins now ranks first in AFC and third in the NFL in receiving yards (894) and has seven touchdowns this season. He has 88 straight games with a reception to start his career is the longest active streak in the NFL.
Lamar Miller rushed for nine yards on the first play of the game. On the next 12 first down plays that the Texans ran the football, they managed only 10 yards. Nine of the attempts went for 2 yards or less; five for zero or minus yards. Bill O Brien’s conservative nature still hurts and it could have cost this game for the Texans, but lucky for them the Broncos missed the potential game winning field goal.
The defense once again held there opponent under 20 points 4-out-of the last 5 games. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney both had a sack, while Justin Reid lead the defense with 9 tackles and fumble recovery. Denver only rushed for 75 yards on 20 attempts as the Texans defense front put pressure on Case Keenum all game. They held Denver scoreless in the 4th quarter and only allowed the Broncos 5-14 on 3rd down conversions.
The Texans knew that whatever top of the line performance the Broncos were capable of giving on Sunday, they were going to get it. Especially from Case Keenum, who played admirably despite the fact that the Houston defense stifled Denver’s high powered ground game, forcing the former Texan to make clutch plays.
Nevertheless, Watson and the Texans helped themselves to another win, and they’ll have off next Sunday before heading to Washington in two weeks for a matchup against the Redskins.