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Big comeback falls short | Vandermeer's View

After a nightmarish start against the Chargers, the Texans worked their way back to trail by three with plenty of time left. But they have yet to get that first win, ultimately falling 34-24.

The game started out with a football catastrophe. Davis Mills, under pressure on third down, threw a deep pick that was returned to the Texans 25-yard line. An offsides penalty gave the Chargers the ball in 'third and manageable' and they found the end zone on a Justin Herbert to Gerald Everett TD pass. 

By now you know that the Texans were down big. It was 21-0 nothing before things would get better. Dameon Pierce ran 75 yards for a second quarter touchdown, the third longest TD run in franchise history and the building came alive.

L.A. put two field goal drives together before the half, as the defense started to find a rhythm. But would the offense come up with any more big plays?

They would.

With time running low in the third quarter Mills and Pierce would spark a drive that included a 20-yard-pass to Brandin Cooks and a 30-yard-pass to Jordan Akins. I'm no Johnny Harris but I spotted that Pierce had excellent pass protection on the throw to Akins. Moments later, Mills would find Rex Burkhead for an eight-yard scoring pass.

But they would need more.

After a defensive stop, Houston got the rock again. This time at the Texans seven. Burkhead had a nice catch and run to convert a third down. Then Mills hit Nico Collins on the first deep ball of the season to get a first down in the red zone. The next play was a bullet to Brandin Cooks to pull Houston within six.

Then DeAndre Carter fumbled the kickoff as the Texans special teamers pounced. Had the Texans grabbed the lead there, things might have played out differently. But the ensuing possession stalled and Ka'imi Fairbairn hit a 40-yard field goal to make it a three point deficit.

After that, the Chargers took the ball 84 yards in 12 plays to put it away.

There were some encouraging things and some definite to-do's after this one.

First, penalties were a problem. There were two rare defensive holding infractions. There was a costly hold, wiping out a third down conversion. The total count was nine for 67 yards.

Second, the Texans couldn't get to Herbert. He was only sacked once and the Charger ground game was enough of an issue to keep the D honest through play action. The Chargers were 8-16 on third down and that became a big difference in the game with the Texans going four for 15.

Pierce was a force with 131 yards on 14 carries. Take out the 75-yard run and he still averaged 4.3 per carry. He's productive and fun to watch.

Mills threw the ball the best he has this season but he'll be the first to tell you that the Texans need to execute better through the air overall, particularly on third down.

Now comes a trip to Jacksonville. The Jags will be determined to beat the Texans for the first time in five years. Jacksonville turned the ball over five times in a loss at Philly Sunday and never got their ground game going.

It'll be another chance to get that elusive first win. It'll also be the first time back in the division since opening day.

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