The Texans special teams unit was outstanding in Sunday's 30-16 victory at Jacksonville.
Yes, Tremon Smith gets the lion's share of attention and understandably so because of his 98-yard kickoff return for a score. It was a play that gave the Texans an 11-point first-half lead, but so many other plays from the special teams were instrumental in victory…including one play that won't officially count as a play.
After a two-yard David Johnson run on the first play from scrimmage, QB Davis Mills threw incomplete. Before the 3rd-and-8 snap, the play clock expired and the Texans were pushed back five more yards. Mills found WR Phillip Dorsett for 10 yards, but P Cameron Johnston came on to punt on 4th-and-3. From there, S Eric Murray drew an illegal hands to the face penalty, the 'play' was wiped out and Houston had a fresh set of downs. Mills and company marched down the field on what would ultimately be a 15-play touchdown drive and the Texans had a lead they never relinquished.
Aside from that penalty, there were a slew of positives from the special teamers.
On average, the Houston offense was able to start at their own 35-yard line, while the Jaguars started at their own 26-yard line.
Johnston punted four times, and three of those were downed inside the Jacksonville 20-yard line.
CB Desmond King II returned a punt for 16 yards in the first half.
K Ka'imi Fairbairn connected on all three field goal tries, including a 52-yarder and then a 51-yarder as the first half ended.
Smith tackled a Jaguars kickoff returner at the Jacksonville 14-yard line to start the second half, and in the fourth quarter returned a kickoff to the Texans' 33-yard line.
Houston allowed one long punt return and also committed a penalty on a fourth quarter punt return. That gaffe was a minor blemish on the day, according to Smith.
"Besides that, I feel like we played the perfect game," Smith said. "We won the special teams battle, and of course, we won the offensive and defensive battles, and we came out victorious."
Seeing Fairbairn's Sunday perfection on the three field goal tries and two extra-point attempts, coming a week after he made a franchise-best 61-yarder, was a welcome sight to Mills.
"It's awesome," Mills said. "He's extremely dependable. We know if we get ourselves in position like we did before halftime, and even last week versus Seattle, he's going to be able to go out there and make kicks. We all trust him, and he's been doing a great job."
The Texans host the Chargers on Sunday at NRG Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.