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9 observations from Texans vs. Giants

The home opener didn’t provide any winning relief for the Texans on Sunday as they fell to the New York Giants 27-22.

Here are my observations.

1. Ironically on a day in which Tiger Woods won a golf tournament for the first time in five years, J.J. Watt turned in a performance that had everyone buzzing. The two had been the most dominant players in their respective sports for a time, but injuries set both back for a significant period of time. Yet on Sunday, Woods completed a dominant weekend performance for his first win in five years and Watt turned in a circa 2014-like performance against the Giants. He finished with eight tackles, three sacks for -25 yards, three tackles for a loss, four quarterback hits and one forced fumble.

2.Back in 2014, in particular, I used to look at his stat line and be amazed that a player could put a “1” in nearly every column on the sheet. He was at that status, again, on Sunday. He’s now tied for sixth (with his brother T.J.), one sack away from the lead in the league.

3. Will Fuller V continued his ascent as one of the top receivers in the AFC. He had another 100-yard game, registering five catches for 101 yards and another touchdown. He’s had a touchdown catch in every game that he’s played with Deshaun Watson. The toughness, though, that Fuller showed running over Giants defenders a couple of times was truly impressive. He and DeAndre Hopkins combined for 11 catches for 187 yards on the day.

4. The Texans drive chart was, well, telling. Last week, they produced just 17 points on SEVEN possessions inside the opponents 40-yard line. This week, it was 15 points on SIX possessions inside the opponents 35 (minus the last second touchdown drive). Furthermore, they produced only twelve points when they got inside the 10-yard line (minus the last second touchdown drive), which they did three times. Two possessions that finished inside the 25-yard line resulted in turnovers. 

5. So, let’s do some simple math, okay? Let’s say when the Texans got inside the ten, they scored touchdowns and outside the ten they could only muster field goals. Okay, fine, can live with it. That’s 21 off of three drives (inside the ten) and 12 via field goal (outside the ten), which makes 33 points and doesn’t even include the last drive.

6. In contrast, every time the Giants offense got inside Houston territory, they scored. Every time they were inside the 20-yard line (four times), they scored. In fact, the offense scored three touchdowns and one field goal for a total 24 points. It didn’t turn the ball over once. After generating only 30 yards throughout the entire second half, it produced a 77-yard scoring drive in nine plays to seal the deal. I’m sure there’s an advanced stat out there for scoring efficiency and it’s one that the Texans are certainly struggling in.

7. I feared Giants quarterback Eli Manning having a 2014 flashback but he didn’t. He was better. In 2014, against the Texans, after struggling for a couple of weeks to start the season, he completed 75% of his passes, produced no turnovers and was a bastion of accuracy and toughness leading the Giants to a 30-17 win. Same story, same verse in 2018, just improved. He completed 25 of 29 passes (86% completion (!!!) for 297 yards and two touchdowns. He was nearly perfect with a 132.3 passer rating, throwing behind a backup right tackle, a backup center and a rookie left guard.

8. The Texans run game struggled all day long in part to Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson. Those two dominated the middle and truly eliminated the Texans run game from the game plan. The Texans missed left guard Senio Kelemete who was injured during warmups.

9. It’s been good to see Tyler Ervin producing on punt/kick returns. He averaged 15 yards a return on three punt returns. He’s fourth in the league on kickoff returns (min five returns) and in the top 15 on punt returns. It was on punt returns, though, on Sunday where he really impacted the game.

I wish there were more but most of my remaining observations pertain to how physically freakish Giants running back Saquon Barkley is. Andre Ware said during the game that he reminded him of a former teammate of his, a Hall of Famer named Barry Sanders. Go watch a little of Barry and you’ll see it. Alas, I don’t have much more to say about this one other than let’s get to Indy and improve. Play a clean game. Compete like heck. Relax and play.

See ya then, everyone.

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