4th down gamble comes up big for Texans

Romeo Crennel wanted five yards.

Brandin Cooks gave him six points.

Leading Jacksonville, 23-14, with 4:46 remaining in regulation, the Texans faced a 4th-and-4 at the Jaguars' 28-yard line. Crennel, in his first game as Houston's interim head coach, could've easily sent kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn on to attempt a 45-yard field goal. Instead, Crennel wanted to move the chains, so he put Deshaun Watson and his offense back on the field.

Watson found Cooks over the middle, and the veteran receiver blazed into the end zone for a touchdown. Fairbairn's extra point staked the Texans to a 30-14 advantage with 4:39 left in the game.

"All I was trying to do was get the first down because it was a two-score game," Crennel said. "And the field goal, even though it would have put points on the board, potentially it might not have made a difference if they had gone down and scored. And so I wanted to try to get that done and kind of put it out of reach and make it much tougher for them to have a chance to come back."

It worked, as the Jaguars turned the ball over on downs two minutes later, and the Texans ran out the clock to pick up their first win of 2020. For Cooks, it was an important play in the framework of the game. But it might possibly wind up meaning more.

"I think that moment defined the trust right there," Cooks said. "Not only from a player to player standpoint but from a coach to player standpoint. You know, calling it in a 'got to have it' situation. All guys were open, he just happened to come to me, and I just tried to do my best to make something happen for the offense. He threw a great ball and the rest was history." 

That decisiveness was also embraced by Watson.

"We've got to go for it," Watson said. "And we've got to put our best players in positions to go make big-time plays, and that's what he did today, and we capitalized. Made a good throw where he could catch it, and he made a great run after that and we put it away from there. Then the defense made a stop and did their job, and we ended the game. That's how we want to end the game."

Even though he was watching from the sidelines, cornerback Bradley Roby was a big fan of seeing Crennel call on the offense in that situation late in the game.

"I loved that," Roby said. "I love that aggressive mentality, like let's end this game, let's not leave anything to chance, or they might score or get an onside, none of that. We want to end them. And I was proud of the offense, how they played today, and they put them away, and all we had to do was just stop the bleeding and don't give up any big plays toward the end."

It was the only fourth down conversion of the day for the Texans, who faced 10 third down situations and were successful on five.

Houston faces the Titans in Nashville next Sunday at Noon CT.

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