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15 observations from Texans vs. Bills

If there’s one thing that I know more than anything else...my heart (and yours too, presumably) can’t take this stress. Oh man, that wasn’t as much fun as it was exhilarating.

The Texans did win in regulation, which is a great start. That said, my heart couldn’t take overtime and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. It was a gritty, tough win and teams don’t get style points for a win or moral victories for a loss. So, on early Sunday evening, the Texans sit at 3-3, tied atop the AFC South after an 0-3 start, getting ready to take on the Jaguars down in Duval County for potential sole possession of first place.

Can’t wait!! Before we get there, though, here are my observations from Sunday’s win over Buffalo.

1. Let’s start with the special teams. Brad Seely and Tracy Smith have done a fantastic job with special teams this season. Their units were fantastic across the board. Now, they’ve been strong this season, but on a day when the offense struggled, the special teams saved this one. Buddy Howell caused a fumble on the opening kickoff (Bills did recover). Brennan Scarlett recovered a punt muff by Bills returner Ray Ray McCloud that led to the Texans only touchdown. Tyrell Adams blocked a punt for the first time since Alfred Blue did it in his debut game as a Texan in 2014 (and Scarlett recovered that one too). Kai’mi Fairbairn was two for two on field goals and he had a hand in a key play after J Jo’s touchdown as well.

2.The Texans were penalized for taunting after Johnathan Joseph’s touchdown so Fairbairn had to kick from his 20-yard line. He it a rocket shot down all the way down to the eight. Bills returner Taiwan Jones didn’t catch it clean but picked it up and immediately had to avoid a pair of red jerseys. Peter Kalambayi was the third and he hustled to bring down Jones at the 12. That forced Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman and the Bills offense to start deep in his own territory. And...we all know what happened next. What a wonderful day for the special teams!

3. Defensively, what can you say about the performance of the OGs (as Tyrann Mathieu tweeted) Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph? These two have been atop the Texans career interception leader board for a long time and they were tied after J-Joe’s pick six...for about 45 seconds. Then, Kareem took back the lead with his pick to end the game.

4.By the way, after J-Joe’s pick six, the sideline was a madhouse...and it was glorious. Texans cheerleaders. Texans staff members. Drew Dougherty. Me. Secruity guards. Police officers. Everyone. Going. Wild. The players then all left the bench and celebrated too. It’s one of those memories that you’ll remember for a long time if you were there.

5. Kareem will tell you though that he should’ve had another one and it would’ve been a HUGE one. After Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander tipped and picked off a pass in the third quarter, the Bills moved down into scoring range. The defense forced the Bills into a third down situation inside the 10-yard line. On that third down, Bills quarterback Josh Allen rolled to his right and thought that he saw an open receiver so he fired one for the end zone. However, Kareem was in the way and nearly came up with the pick. The Bills can thank their lucky stars that Allen throws a 103-mile fastball because that’s the only thing that kept Jackson from making the pick. That would’ve kept the Bills off the scoreboard, instead of cutting the lead to 10-3.

6. Linebackers Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney combined for 23 tackles on the day and were brilliant for a second straight week. In two weeks, these two were instrumental in holding two of the best backs in the league - Zeke Elliott and ‘Shady’ McCoy - to 127 yards on 37 carries in the back to back weeks. The speed, the power, the tackling, the full complement of skills...these two inside warriors have shown it all the past couple of weeks.

7. Oh, before I move on, I must apologize to Alfred Blue. I completely spaced on mentioning him in my observations after the Dallas game. I submitted my article and as I read them back, I was mortified that I didn’t mention him at all. He was outstanding in that win over Dallas. Then, against Buffalo, he made one of the more underrated plays of the game with a 14-yard catch on the sideline on the game-tying drive just prior to the two minute warning. Blue has been as valuable as any offensive player the past few weeks.

8. Bills defensive back Tre’Davious White tracked Texans star receiver DeAndre Hopkins all day long and had a couple of decent moments in coverage. Yet, Hopkins drew at least three holding or defensive pass interference flags and two more that weren’t called (or picked up). Tack on the 39th touchdown reception of his career and it was another strong performance for DeAndre.

9.Hopkins is third in the league in receiving yards (657 yards) and tied for fifth in receptions after his Sunday performance. He’s on pace for 117 receptions and 1,752 yards after six games.

10. Quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t have the day that we’re used to seeing statistically, but, BUT I’ll remember this one for a long while. Why? After the pounding he endured after the Cowboys game, I didn’t think he would be in any shape to play against Buffalo. He was limited in practice all week and was questionable going in, but he found a way to play and compete. 

11. When his squad needed him in a big way, he came up clutch on the key drive in the fourth quarter to tie the game from 92 yards away. I said it before and I’ll say it again, his best attribute, on field or off field, is his toughness. He knew he was going to play in that game at some point during the week and found the resolve to get out on that field and lead this team. 

12. The play that stood out to me was the throw to Hopkins for Spin-o-Rama, version 2.0. On the play prior, Watson was sacked and lost the ball in the process. The Texans recovered the fumble but Watson came out from under the pile flexing his hand and arm, his right hand/arm, mind you. Then on the very next play, he threw a dart to Hopkins for 24 yards on 2nd and 15 for a first down.

13. After seeing the All-22 of the pick six, what a great call by defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel! If you have NFL Game Pass, you can see it for yourself, but that’s all I’ll say here.

14. Speaking of the defense, when was the last time that the Texans had two interceptions in a game? Joseph did it all by himself against the Cleveland Browns back in October 2017. He had a pick six in that game too.

15. Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus has been asked to do a number of different things for this defense and he obliges each and every time. I’ll have a Telestrator coming out that shows what he’s done against the run, in particular. But, he just does so much more for this defense, even if the sacks haven’t materialized yet. He and Clowney delivered the pinball hits that knocked rookie quarterback Josh Allen from the game.

So, I’ll do like the players and start thinking about the Jacksonville Jaguars for Sunday. See ya then, everyone.

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